Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Aug 19:
While some senior ruling BJD leaders in Odisha are in news over the acquisition of multiple plots and houses under the discretionary quota in gross violation of rules, there are reports that these leaders have also cornered huge patches of forest land on the outskirts of the capital city.
According to reports, four BJD leaders including a BJD minister and a Rajya Sabha MP have taken possession of nearly 100 acres of village forest land at Ghangapatna mouza under Chandaka tehsil near Bhubaneswar, the market price of which is estimated to have been over Rs 300 crore.
While two BJD leaders have already constructed boundary walls around the village forest land and constructed roads, the Revenue department has remained a mute spectator, reports said.
Sources in the locality said a former minister and now a Rajya Sabha member has a major share of the ‘illegal’ land and has already dug a bore well there. He has even donated Rs 1 lakh to the local youth club members to ensure he faces no opposition in taking the patch of land into his possession.
According to the villagers, this leader has also managed to construct a wide road to his illegally acquired land during his tenure as Panchayati Raj minister.
Villagers said this BJD leader visits this place frequently and offers huge amounts as donation to the local youth club for local celebrations during festive seasons.
“We don’t have the guts to protest the illegal activities of these BJD leaders because of their clout and also due to the threats issued by the land mafia employed by them”, they admitted.
“We hope that the BJD leaders would give us money against the land they have taken from us. But we are afraid of demanding the money from them because we are scared of the land mafia”, said the tribal people in the mouza, who eke out a living as daily wage labourers.
What is shocking is the manner that the state Revenue department has chosen to look the other way when a vast patch of village forest land on the outskirts of the capital city has been grabbed illegally right under its nose.