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Gujarat reclaims encroached land from Asaram ashram

Ahmedabad, March 4(IANS) The Gujarat government is now working out the quantum of fines, after taking back over 67,000 sq metres of land encroached by the Asaram ashram here, Revenue Minister Anandiben Patel said.

The government had on Jan 8 this year taken possession of the land encroached by the ashram in 1988, the minister said during question hour. The encroachment had spread to the Sabarmati river bed and was wrested back after an almost two-year long legal battle. The minister confirmed that the quantum of fine for use of the government land was being worked out.

The minister admitted that the government was made aware of the encroachment on Feb 23,2008, and had moved almost immediately to get the encroachment cleared.

She said that almost soon after encroaching on the land in 1988, the ashram had moved the government for regularizing it. The then government, instead of recovering two and half times the price of the land as required under the norms, fined the ashram only 100 percent or Rs.10 per sq metre for regularizing the first 2,000 metres.

Then over a period of time, in bits and pieces, using the precedent set the first time, the encroached land was regularised. Subsequently the price was raised to Rs.25 per metre as regularisation charges.

Similarly, according to the minister, 4.5 hectares of land was under encroachment of the ashram in the Jahangirpura area of Surat and the government is charging a fine of Rs.70,000 per month for the encroachment.

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