Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jun 9:
Nearly two years after he retired from service, former Odisha chief secretary Bijay Kumar Patnaik, who has now joined as vice president of Vedanta, is yet to vacate the official bungalow allotted to him in Bhubaneswar.
Curiously, the state government has not made any move whatsoever to evict him from the spacious bungalow he is in illegal possession of.
It is a matter of utter surprise that the policemen and the attendants, who were serving at the official bungalow of Patnaik during his tenure as chief secretary and later as member of Odisha Staff Selection Commission (OSSC) and Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC), are still working under him.
Patnaik, during his tenure as chief secretary, had renovated this huge bungalow (VII-A-1) near Sishu Bhawan Square in Forest Park area at a cost of Rs 66 lakh.
Patnaik, who retired from service on June 30, 2013, was succeeded by Jugal Kishore Mohapatra. After Mohapatra left the state and went on Central deputation, Gokul Chandra Pati took over as the next chief secretary on August 1, 2014.
However, neither of these officers could stay in the official bungalow meant for the chief secretary because it is still occupied by Patnaik.
Once known as the most powerful bureaucrat in Odisha, Patnaik had worked as the principal secretary to chief minister, a post he held for six years before becoming chief secretary.
It was during his tenure that Vedanta had made inroads in Odisha. At that time, the state government had made efforts to formulate special rules for setting up the Vedanta University along the Puri-Konark marine drive. The government had taken possession of 5000 acres of land, including some land belonging to Lord Jagannath, for the proposed university.
Following a statewide protest, the Odisha High Court later declared the land acquisition as illegal.
While questions were raised on the soft corner of the state government towards Vedanta, it was subsequently known that it was Bijay Patnaik, who was the chief patron as the company, has recently been appointed as the vice-president of the university project.