BHUBANESWAR: Finding itself in a spot over the Ghangapatana land scam, the State Government on Monday sought more time to wriggle out of the controversy which has become a major embarrassment for Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
While Forest and Environment Minister Bikram Keshari Arukh clarified that the land under scrutiny belongs to the Revenue department, Revenue Minister Bijayshree Routray said the inquiry into matter by Khurda District Collector is still on and things will be clear within a day or two.
Arukh said the report of the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Chandaka Wildlife Division, said that the land in question is ‘kisam chotta jungle’ and ‘parbat’ in Anabadi khatiyan (Plot No 614) of 1962 settlement records.
According to the report submitted by the DFO, the land does not come under Orissa Forest Act, 1972, but it comes under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980.
“Section 2 of the Act clearly says individuals or institutions are required to get prior approval of the Central Government for use of such land for non-forest activities,” he said.
The inquiry by the DFO, however, found a 1.3 km long road on Plot No. 1098 of which 300 metres appeared to have been widened recently, he said.
The Minister said the department has no knowledge as to who constructed the road and which department sanctioned funds.
Asked about the boundary wall, Arukh said there is no boundary wall on forest land.
“I am not in a position to comment on the issue as I have not received any report. The investigation by the Khurda District Collector is on and things will be clear within a day or two,” the Revenue Minister told reporters.
Khurda District Collector Niranjan Sahu was asked to submit the inquiry report by August 23. He, however, took more time as the Revenue department asked him to clarify on certain points, sources said.