Bhubaneswar: Mystery shrouds the construction of a 3-km road through the Chandaka forest connecting a disputed patch of 100 acres at Ghangapatna village on the city outskirts.
Many influential people, including Rajya Sabha member Kalapataru Das’s son and Dharmasala MLA Pranab Balabantaray and BJP state president K.V. Singh Deo’s kin, have bought land in the area.
The state government continues to be clueless about the agency or individuals, who has built the road. Significantly, the local forest and revenue department offices are hardly 5km from the disputed land.
Forest department officials admitted that the land belonged to the forest department but was in the records of the revenue department. They do not have any idea about the ownership of the land on which the road was being built.
Forest and environment minister Bikram Keshari Arukh said: “We have no information on who constructed the road.” He said the land was recorded as Anabadi plot – 614 in 1962. “According to the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, enacted by the Centre, for use of such land for non-forest activities, one is required to get the prior approval of the central government,” Arukh said.
On being asked who had built the boundary wall around the land, the minister said he was only assigned with the job to find out whether the land belonged to the forest department. “The boundary wall was not under the purview of the probe,” he said.
Based on the Chandaka divisional forest officer’s report, the minister said the land, on which the road was constructed illegally, was in the possession of the revenue department even though it belonged to chhota jangal (small forest) kissam type. A part of the 3-km road even has temporary drains on both sides.
Revenue minister Bijayshree Routray, on the other hand, refused to comment. “I don’t want to give piecemeal information. I will speak when the inquiry is complete,” he said.
In a related development, local people, along with members of the civil society, today demanded a CBI inquiry into the corruption and irregularities in allotment of government land, houses and plots to influential people, including ministers and bureaucrats. They submitted a memorandum to chief minister Naveen Patnaik and demanded that all houses and plots distributed after 1980s should be examined.
“The CAG has exposed the government on the land allotments. Only a CBI inquiry would unearth the truth. If our demands are not fulfilled we will stage statewide agitation, launch signature campaigns and carry out door-to-door campaign,” said Pradip Pradhan, convenor of the Odisha Soochana Adhikar Abhiyan.
A group of civil society members today also lodged a complaint against Kalpataru Das and Pranab Balbantaray in Capital police station for allegedly grabbing land in Bhubaneswar.
Balabantaray said he had sold the land at Ghangapatna — which had been bought in the name of Gokarneswar Charitable Trust. He said he had also returned two of houses allotted to him under the discretionary quota.