Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Orissa Govt admits land under encroachment

Bhubaneswar, Saturday, December 17, 2011

Alleging lack of efforts to retrieve government land under encroachment, opposition Congress on Saturday walked out of the Orissa Assembly even as Revenue Minister S N Patro assured the members that all land in illegal possession would be freed. 

"Valuable government land at different places of the state including the state capital, Cuttack, Puri, Konark, Jajpur were under illegal possession of individuals," Patro told the assembly, replying to an adjournment motion debate. 

The worth of land under encroachment here would be at least Rs 2,000 crore, the minister said adding that a special cell has been set up at the revenue department to ensure return of such lands. "Out of 9,454.801 acre of land under encroachment, the government retrieved 2516.015 acre so far." 

Rejecting the allegation that the government had made no effort to free encroached land, the minister said a new legislation was being made to ensure smooth recovery of land. "We have been referring land encroachment cases to the Crime Branch for investigation," the minister said. 

Congress chief whip Prasad Harichandan, however, alleged that the government had made no effort to recover land and said the crime branch was not doing its duties thus giving time to encroaches to legalise their land in fraudulent manner.

"Of the 60 land encroachment cases handed over to the crime branch, only one case has so far been finalised," Harichandan said adding that the CBI on the other hand doing excellent job in certain land scams. To justify his claim that the government had made no effort to retrieve land, Harichandan pointed out how the revenue department "indulged in illegal activities of land conversion". 

While there was no provision of issuing K-form for land conversion under the Orissa Land Reform Act, 1960, the government had empowered tehsildars to undertake conversion activities through a simple notification. 

"While the existing land law gives power to assistant land settlement or assistant consolidation officers to allow land conversion, the government illegally empowered the tehsildars to do the job," the Congress leader said. He alleged that irrigated agricultural lands were being converted for other purposes including industrial use. 

"The state government is taking the shelter of IDCO (Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation) Rules to ensure easy land conversion," he pointed out. 

Citing an instance, the leader of opposition Bhupinder Singh said that 2823 acre of valuable land near sea shore in Puri was illegally taken by some people and the government had failed to retrieve them though three decades had passed. 

Displeased over the government's action in retrieving lands, the opposition walked out of the assembly. 


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