Vishakhapatnam: In a midnight operation that lasted till the early hours of Saturday, revenue officials in the presence of police personnel demolished a compound wall facing the beach road and 7the the main gate of the campus of the GITAM deemed to be university to free 40 acres of encroached land.
The campus houses an engineering college, a dental college, a medical college and other educational institutions spread over 120 acres of prime land.
The university was founded by late TD member of Parliament M.V.V.S. Murthy and is being run by his grandson and TD leader M Sri Bharat.
A GITAM official said no notice was served to them before demolishing the walls. An official statement is yet to be issued. Before carrying out the meticulously planned ‘Operation Demolition’, the beach road leading to the educational institutions was barricaded. The hospital belonging to the medical college houses several Covid-19 patients.
Revenue divisional officer P. Kishore and his team conducted an inquiry and reportedly found that the GITAM campus had encroached 40.51 acres of land under various survey numbers at Rushikonda and Yendada of Vizag city following which demolition of the compound wall was taken up.
GITAM authorities constructed compound walls and some structures in the allegedly encroached crores of worth government lands. Based on the RDO report, a special investigation team (SIT) is also probing into the matter.
The RDO said that in 1981, the GITAM management applied to the AP government for allotment of 71.15 acres of land at Rushikonda and Yendada for setting up of educational institutions. Since the land was assigned for landless poor and some in legal dispute, the then government allotted 14 acres of land to GITAM subject to certain conditions that it should purchase the lands as per the price prescribed by the government after the settlement in the court.
In 2014, the Chief Commissioner of Land Affairs visited GITAM and ordered that the 35 acres be given to Visakhapatnam Metropolitan Region Development Authority (VMRDA), project officer of the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA), deputy commissioner of commercial taxes, deputy director social welfare and other departments for construction of hostels for SC and ST students and other offices for public utility.
The GITAM management went to the High Court and obtained a stay on the CCLA order. Later the government made an offer to GITAM management to purchase the 40 acres of land at the rate of `8 crore per acre. But the GITAM management did not respond.
Bhimili tahsildar K. Eswara Rao, who executed the demolition, told Deccan Chronicle that only 20 acres where no structure had been built except compound wall was taken over and fenced. A billboard warning encroachers was also put up. He said structures have come up in another 20 acres, which include part of the dental college, Mother Teresa Hospital and a nationalised bank. Demolition of these structures would be taken up after receiving instructions from the government, he said.
Many TD leaders cried foul and said it was political vendetta while ruling party leaders defended the action stating that everything went as per law.