Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Aug 25:
In the clearest possible indication yet of the total confusion in the Odisha government over the controversial land on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar allegedly usurped by politicians and other influential persons, the Forest and Revenue departments today gave two diametrically opposite versions on the actual status of the land.
While Forest and Environment minister Bikram Keshari Arukh sought to pass the buck to the Revenue department as the owner of the land, Revenue minister Bijayshree Routray said the inquiry was still on and things would become clear in ‘a day or two’.’
Talking to media persons, Forest minister Arukh, quoting from the report submitted by the divisional forest officer (DFO), Chandaka, said the land on which a road was constructed illegally was in the possession of the Revenue department even though it belonged to Chhota Jangal (small forest) kissam (type) .
The inquiry by the DFO found that a 1.3 km long road had indeed been constructed on the land (plot no 1098) of which 300 meters appeared to have been constructed recently, he said.
“According to the report of the DFO, Chandaka, the Khatiyan of the land (Anabadi plot no-614) was published in 1962 and it does not come under the Orissa Forest Act, 1972. But, it does come under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 enacted by the Government of India. Section 2 of the Act clearly says individuals or institutions are required to get prior approval of the Central Government for use of such land for non-forest activities,” the minister said.
Arukh was evasive when asked about the boundary wall constructed on the land. “The boundary wall was not under the purview of the inquiry ordered by the department,” he said. “We have no information on who constructed it,” he added.
Confronted with the statement of the Forest minister, Revenue minister Routray said he did not want to say anything at this stage when the inquiry was still on. “I don’t want to comment at this stage when the inquiry is still on. I will speak when the inquiry is complete in a day or two and I have the all relevant facts on hand,” he said.