Shillong: A Congress MLA in Meghalaya was asked to refund Rs eight crore the state government had given to him to pay villagers for acquiring a land which was later found out to be owned by the government itself.
"I have written to Stanleywis Rymbai (Umroi MLA) to refund the money that my predecessor in the office had paid to him in June last year," Ri-Bhoi district collector Akash Deep told.
The state government had released Rs 8 crore as the first installment of a Rs 10 crore compensation for a 178 hectare area acquired by the government in February last year in Umsawkhwan village under the scheme "acquisition of ecologically important area".
Rymbai was authorized by the village through a power of attorney to collect the money on its behalf.
"My duty empowered by the power of attorney was to hand over the money to the village authorities. The money was shared evenly in the village and some contribution was made to the Church there," Rymbai said.
The forest department recently ordered to stop the acquisition process as the land was later found to be belonging to the soil conservation department and asked the district authorities to realize the amount (Rs 8 crore) compensated, official sources said.
However, the village authorities claimed the land belongs to them as per pattas issued to them by a tribal chief which is recognized by the government.
The village also said the land was made available to the then Assam government in 1953 for plantation for 30 years while reserving the right of ownership with the village.
The village durbar said instead of returning the land to the rightful owners, it was left to the disposal of the state government in 1972 after it was carved out of Assam.
The village elders had met the district collector in this regard.


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