Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Konark, Sep 11:
Officials of the Odisha government have valued the illegal property on the sprawling Kalki Baba ashram spread over 19.60 acres of encroached forest and revenue land in Darshanibanta area of Kurujanga panchayat under Konark police station limits in Puri district at over Rs 1.5 crore.
As per the orders of the district administration, Works department officials went to the site on Thrusday afternoon and valued the ashram building, which has now been freed from encumbrance.
As per an estimate, the building in the ashram premises, including an under-construction house of 19, 503 sq ft, was valued at over Rs 1.5 crore. In the later phases, the PHeD and electricity departments would estimate the electrical and sanitary fittings, sources said.
Reportedly, the district administration had found encroachment of 19.60 acre on forest land during measurement on August 31 in the presence of police personnel. The controversial Kalki Baba alias Banambar Maharana was served a notice to vacate the encroached land within four days failing which the district administration threatened to go ahead with the demolition process.
The revenue and forest officials had served notice under section 34 (a) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 to the founder of the ashram Kalki Baba, Ramesh Khatoi, Dwarikanath Jena and Mayadhar Ray to clear the land of encroachment.
Late on September 4 night, the self-styled godman vacated the premises after which the forest department started the fencing of the disputed land with barbed wires the following day. Besides, the officials launched a plantation drive in the erstwhile ashram campus.
The officials planted around 970 Acacia, neem and casuarina trees, sources said.
The measurement of the land was done in the presence of Kakatpur Additional Tehsildar Akshay Kumar Patnaik, deputy executive engineer of Works department Satyaranjan Sahu, assistant engineer Bilay Kumar Ray and other officials.
The ashram, which was buzzing with activity just a few weeks ago, now wears a deserted look after it was taken over by the district administration.
Meanwhile, police personnel have been deployed at the site to man the property.
It may be mentioned that it is illegal to construct any concrete structure in the Balukhanda wildlife sanctuary under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.