Sunday , 22 September 2019
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Serula case probe going nowhere


PANAJI: It appears that the state government is not determined to push for a thorough probe into the multi-crore Serula land grab case, as it has not yet taken a call after inquiry officer Srinet Kothwale requested the government to relieve him from the probe as his hands are full with too many positions.  

In April 2017, the revenue department had appointed Kothwale as an inquiry officer in the Serula communidade land case in the light of the submissions made before the High Court of Bombay at Goa through a writ petition.

The department had asked Kothwale to verify and determine whether there have been lapses or noncompliance of norms or procedure in allotting plots since the Liberation till 2011 in Serula communidade.

The government had asked Kothwale to submit the inquiry report in six months.

Kothwale had initiated a preliminary inquiry in the land grab case, seizing some 100 files from the communidade office.

However, thereafter the government transferred Kothwale from the home department, assigning him several charges:  he was appointed as director of information and technology department and managing director of the Goa State Infrastructure Development Corporation.

In October 2018, Kothwale requested the government to relieve him as the inquiry officer in the land grab case.

In a letter to the government Kothwale said that he has been holding too many charges: he is the IT director, managing director of the IT Corporation, managing director of the GSIDC and the chief executive officer of the startup cell.  Hence, Kothwale said, it would not be possible for him to continue as the inquiry officer.

“As such, I hereby relinquish the charge of inquiry officer with effect from October 3, 2018,” the letter said.

It is learnt from the sources that the government has not yet decided on relieving Kothwale from the Serula land grab probe.

It is pertinent to note here that Kothwale had requested the government to relieve him from the Serula case probe in the past as well.  However, the government had insisted that he should continue investigating the case.

The preliminary inquiry conducted by Kothwale had unearthed various irregularities including forging of documents and processing of only 200 files when in reality over 10,000 plots had been allotted.

Sources said the inquiry had also revealed that illegal structures in Serula communidade coming under the jurisdiction of village panchayats of Penha de France, Succorro and Salvador de Mundo include commercial structures like hotels, mega projects, auto centres, mobile towers, housing projects etc.

These structures   are legally not permissible on communidade land.

The probe had also indicated that benami bank accounts were opened to divert funds.

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