Unlike ex-IAS Pradeep Sharma, Tapi district town planner suspended for protecting government land from land mafias
MS Padhiyar, a town planner in Tapi district, was subjected to severe and alleged mental torture by Rajnikant Halani, the then Tapi district collector
Surat : There are two laws in Gujarat that govern taking action against government officials. While Gujarat CID has arrested former IAS officer Pradeep Sharma and two other government officials in land encroachment case, a senior Class-I government officer in Tapi district who refused to lower rates of prime government land despite pressure from the then Tapi district collector has been suspended for the last year and a half by the Urban Development Department and Chief Town Planner.
MS Padhiyar, a town planner in Tapi district, was subjected to severe and alleged mental torture by Rajnikant Halani, the then Tapi district collector, after he refused to budge on his demand for lowering rates on prime government land located on survey number 155 in Vyara town. Halani persisted in pressuring Padhiyar to lower the prices of government land so that it could be sold to buyers close to him.
Padhiyar went to Tapi district collector Rajnikant Halani’s office chamber on April 9, 2021, and informed him verbally that he would be unable to lower the rates of the government land and that the land could be used to extend the district collectorate.
During the second wave of Covid-19, the Food and Drugs Commissioner of the State Health Department, Gandhinagar issued a notification on April 12, 2021—following the State Health Department’s notification on April 5, 2021—regarding the appointment of Drug Inspector, Tapi district as the nodal officer for the arrangement, distribution, and control of medical oxygen in the district.
Because Padhiyar refused to budge on the demand, Halani ordered him to visit Uchhal-Nizar on the night of April 9, 2021 to oversee the containment zone activities. Padhiyar went to Uchhal-Nizar in his private car on duty to check the containment zone before returning to the base.
On April 12, 2021, Padhiyar stated in a letter to the Tapi district collector and other senior officers in the Gujarat Government that the district collector harassed him with prejudice and abused his authority. He (the District Collector) took advantage of the Food and Drugs Commissioner’s notification by appointing the Drug Inspector as the nodal officer for medical oxygen supply and illegally delegating the duty to the town planner.
Former IAS officer Pradeep Sharma and two other government officials have been charged with breach of trust by a public servant and criminal conspiracy in connection with a case involving the regularisation of encroached land in Kutch district and lowering rates.
Padhiyar’s family contracted Covid-19 in April 2021. Padhiyar contracted the virus while visiting his sick brother and was admitted to Apollo Hospital in Ahmedabad with his wife. Padhiyar applied for sick leave with the town planning department of the Gujarat government, and his request was approved.
The Urban Development Department and Chief Town Planner, Government of Gujarat suspended Padhiyar with immediate effect for dereliction of duty and negligence on June 25, 2021, based on the representation made by Tapi district collector Rajnikant Halani.
“I’ve been made a scapegoat in the whole thing,” MS Padhiyar told The Blunt Times. “I am placed under suspension for protecting the government land in Vyara, which the then district collector Rajnikant Halani wanted to sell to his associates on lower rates. Had I budged to his (Halani’s) demand then I would have been in the jail, just like former IAS Pradeep Sharma” “I am placed under suspension for the last 20 months and without any wages. “I am subjected to mental harassment for defending government land and refusing to budge on the demand for lower rates,” Padhiyar added.