Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jan 16:
When it comes to taking action against illegalities committed by the rich and the powerful, including ‘people’s representaives’ of the ruling party variety, the Odisha government and its agencies suddenly develope cold feet. And that is precisely what has happened in the case of the Bajrangbali Mutt, better known as Patsani Mutt, erected on land illegally encroached upon by BJD MP from Bhubaneswar Prasanna Patsani.
The dillydallying tactics adopted by the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) has raised questions over its intent to raze the mutt spread over an area of over half an acre near the Khandagiri hills.
On December 11, the General Administration (GA) department had intimated the BDA ad Central Enforcement Monitoring Committee through a written communiqué about the said encroachment. The state government had then asked these departments to free the GA land from encroachment, construct a boundary wall and put up a signboard saying it was government property. Besides, it had asked the two agencies to submit an action taken report on the order.
However, BDA did not show any urgency to demolish the illegal construction, paving the way for a long drawn legal battle delaying the demolition process.
While the GA department did not follow up on the action taken on its order, sources said BDA carried on the demolition drive of the illegal roadside encroachments and shanties to hoodwink people.
As per the standard operating procedure 9SOP) of BDA, a notice to evict the area is served on the encroachers and the demolition follows after 24 hours irrespective of the hue and cry by the encroachers. However, BDA has strangely deviated from its own procedures in the case of Patsani.
On December 16, the state government registered a case under Odisha Development Authorities (ODA) Act and a show-cause notice was served to the occupant asking why the mutt should not be demolished. The government asked the respondent to reply within seven days.
Notably, BDA had served a show-cause notice to Raghunath Das of Bajrangwali Sebashram under Khata No. 443 (Anabadi), Plot No. 1076 and 1215 (part).
Counsel for Das then submitted its reply to the court of OSD (ODA Act) on the scheduled date and the matter was posted for hearing on January 22.
Though the matter was preponed to January 12 following extensive media reporting on this issue, the case was again posted on the prescheduled date i.e. on January 22.
While the matter is unlikely to be decided on the scheduled date, the case is in all likelihood going to consume much time. Even if the OSD (ODA Act) court pronounces its verdict against the illegal occupant, the plaintiff has one month’s time to appeal in the court of Urban Development Department Secretary where there is no time frame to decide the case.
In the case of a verdict in this appellate court, the plaintiff has the right to move higher court clearly indicating that the matter involved in legal tangles has ample of time to be demolished.
Meanwhile, there have been many transfers of OSD (ODA Act) and enforcement officials involved in the case.