Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Sep 6:
The state BJP today urged the Odisha government to come clean on the status of the encroached government land in the state.
Briefing newsmen here, senior BJP leader Bijay Mohapatra said there had been a flurry of reports in the media about rampant encroachment of government land by ashrams, mutts, temples and – last but not the least – by industries and influential persons. But while the government had initiated some steps to take possession of land encroached by mutts and ashrams, it had fought shy of recalim land illegally occupied by industries and influential persons.
“The process of taking back possession of encroached government land has started since 2009. The state government has been able to take back possession of its land occupied by some mutts, ashrams and temple authorities. The BJP welcomes the move of the state government in this regard. But the question is, how far the state government has been able to take possession of the encroached government land occupied by the persons who are in power? We had raised this demand during Ghangapatna land grab issue,” Mohapatra said.
He said the Accountant General, in his exhaustive report titled ‘Land governance in Odisha’, which was tabled in the State Assembly, has wondered why the state government had not taken any action against the encroachers when it was clear that the process of encroachment of government land had started since 2009.
The AG, in its report, had also stated that more than 50,000 acres of government land had been encroached by the BJD leaders, ministers and some leading companies since 2009 the cost of which would be over Rs 3500 crore.
“Out of the total encroached land, 29 companies have taken illegal possession of 404.62 acres the cost of which would be Rs 109.9 crore. Not only these companies, some top officials have also encroached government land and constructed their house on it. But the government has not taken any action against them in the last six years,” Mohapatra said.
Referring to the recent arrest of self-styled godmen Sarathi Baba and Sura Baba and the eviction of Bana Baba and others, he said if the government can arrest these Babas and take possession of the government land occupied by them, the former Kendrapara SP Satish Gajbhiye should also be arrested on the same charges since he has encroached on about 20 acres of land.
“The state government should refrain from adopting one-sided rules. The rules should be applied to all,” he noted.
Pointing his finger towards chief minister Naveen Patnaik, Mohapatra said the part of the land where the former presently resides, belongs to Lord Lingaraj, which had been purchased at twice the cost of the market price.
“Let the chief minster say whether the allegations made by me against him are right or not,” he dared.
Referring to the drought situation, Mohapatra said his partyhad decided at a state level meeting to send a team, comprising state party president KV Singhdeo, BJP Legislature party leader Basant Panda and senior leaders Prithviraj Harichandan, Bhrugu Buxipatra and Kalindi Samal on a three-day visit to the drought hit districts of Bolangir, Kandhamal, Nuapada, Sonepur and Kalahandi from Monday.
“The team, after completing its visit to these aforesaid districts, will have a meeting on September 10. As per the decision to be taken at the meeting, the party would decide its future course of action,” he added.
Countering the statement of Mohapatra, BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb said the AG report on land encroachment had no basis. “The Industries department has already clarified its stand on the land given to these companies,” he said.
Reacting to the statement of Mohapatra on possession of temple land by the chief minister, Deb said the BJD leader, who had learnt his politics from former chief minister Biju Patnaik, had not opened his mouth on this issue earlier since he was with the ruling party.
“Since is no more with the ruling party, he has raised this issue,” he observed.