Reported by Santosh Jagdev
Bhubaneswar, Feb 12:
Accusing the ruling Biju Janta Dal (BJD) government of ‘direct involvement’ in the massive land scam in Bhubaneswar between 2000-2012, said to be worth Rs 10,000 crore, the Odisha unit of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Wednesday demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the case.
AAP has threatened to move the court in the matter if the demand was not accepted.
Briefing media persons here, Dhananda Mishra, state coordinator of AAP Odisha, said a huge land scam worth around Rs 10,000 crore has been taken place during the 14-year long rule of the BJD government causing huge loss to the exchequer.
Quoting from the CAG audit report No. 4 on the land scam in the period 2000-2012, Mishra said Rs land worth about Rs. 10,000 crore at current prices in and around Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) area was illegally allotted to a large number of influential individuals and corporates.
He said there was prime facie evidence to suggest that much of the loot happened under the direct supervision and knowledge of the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and the General Administration (GA) department which has been under his direct control for the entire period. IAS and OAS officers who colluded in the scam have been ‘suitably rewarded’ by the CM with post-retirement sinecures.
Prasanna Mishra, former Coal secretary of the Govt of India and a member of AAP, said the valuable government land had been transferred as per the Government Grants Act 1895, an Act of the British period, without any policy, procedures or rules. Though the state government had framed the Odisha Land Settlement Act 1962, many of the irregularities had been done using the previous law into account. Citing an example, he said 1.61 acres of land in front of Satyam Computer, worth about Rs 25 crore at market prices, was allocated to M/S Rashmi Plaza for a paltry Rs. 1.61 crores making use of the old Act.
The AAP leader said the government had admitted in response to a question in the Odisha Assembly in 2011 that a piece of land measuring 11,582 sq ft in Chandrasekharpur area was sold by auction to Rungta Mines for just Rs 5 crores in 2009.
In what is the best known case of illegal favours being bestowed on powerful individuals, a plot of prime land in Nayapalli area was granted to Revenue Minister Surya Narayan Patra’s son for a hotel at throwaway price. Flouting all norms of conflict of interest, the Minister was made to chair the committee, which was asked to devise the policy for land allotment in the Odisha capital.
After the matter became public, the government was forced to cancel the allotment, but the Odisha High Court has stayed the case, Mishra said adding around 461 acres of land was given away illegally to influential persons at dirt cheap prices causing huge loss to the exchequer.
The land scam generated bribes that have financed much of the election expenses of the ruling party, which reported only Rs. 27 lakh as its total transaction in the last available report with ADR for the year 2010-11, the AAP member alleged.
“We demand a comprehensive CBI enquiry and recovery of the lost revenue through re-auction of all land, immediate formulation of transparent policies and procedures for transfer of properties as directed by the Supreme Court and scrapping of discretionary powers enjoyed by ministers and bureaucrats,” the state coordinator of AAP Odisha said.