Dainik Bhaskar’s Land-Grabbing: NCST Orders Arrest of Revenue Secretary

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New Delhi: The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has issued a warrant to the DGP of Chhattisgarh and ordered the arrest of Neelam Namdev Ekka IAS, the revenue secretary of the state. The order has been issued in connection with the case of ‘DB Power Limited’ of Dainik Bhaskar (DB) Group fraudulently grabbing land belonging to Scheduled Tribe people in the Janjagir-Champa district of Chhattisgarh.

Neelam Namdev Ekka has been ordered to appear before the Commission by 1st April 2022. The warrant was issued on Friday 25 March 2022.

The Revenue Secretary of Chhattisgarh was to appear before the Commission on 24 March 2022 and present his stand. The Commission had issued a notice in this regard on 11 March 2022. The notice also had an order to allow Chhattisgarh State Development Corporation MD Arun Prasad to appear before it. On 24 March 2022, Arun Prasad appeared before the Commission but Neelam Namdev was absent. Following this, the Commission has issued a notice for his arrest.

In July 2021, the Income Tax Department had raided the premises of Dainik Bhaskar due to allegations of financial misappropriation. The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has launched an inquiry into the allegations made against the DB group at Janjgir in Chhattisgarh. The commission has received a complaint about the illegal purchase and sale of tribal land by the Dainik Bhaskar group media institute.

The company of this group that operates in the power sector is called DB Power Limited. This company is accused of fraud in the purchase of land for setting up a power plant in the Janjagir-Champa district of Chhattisgarh. Dainik Bhaskar group had employed a local agent for land purchase. He first purchased the land from the tribal people at cheap rates.

According to the regulations, when a tribal person purchases land from another tribal person, he need not take any permission. But if non-tribal wishes to buy any land from a tribal, it is a must for them to take permission from the district collector.

The Dainik Bhaskar group first asked the employed agent to buy the land from the tribal people at cheap rates. He later sold the land to the Dainik Bhaskar group. In between, the Chhattisgarh State Industrial Development Corporation acquired a major part of the land which it later gave to DB Power Limited. This was the extra land needed for setting up a power plant here. 

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