BHUBANESWAR: The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) has admitted to mistakenly constructing a road on the private property of a septuagenarian man. Though the civic body has admitted to the goof up, Bimbadhar Das, who retired from a private organization around 10 years ago, and his three daughters have been making rounds of government offices since March 2010 to reclaim their land.
Sources said Bimbadhar's neighbours have allegedly encroached on other parts of the prime 200-sq-m property located off the National Highway-5.
"I have lost all hopes of regaining my land. But my daughters insist on pursuing the matter with the government authorities," said Bimbadhar, who has no dependable source of income.
"I stayed on my property under a makeshift polythene tent for some years. But some unidentified people had razed it a few months ago when we were away. We did not dare to stay there any longer," said the septuagenarian, who now stays in a shanty at Chakeisahani. "I am penniless. That is probably the reason why my case is moving at a snail's pace," he added.
"We have found out that BMC constructed the road in 2004. A probe is on to find how the road was built as the man possesses the land documents," said BMC recovery officer Sumita Behera.
Behera said neighbours of Das had also submitted two petitions that a road existed there before BMC constructed the concrete one. "The man has produced the 'not-final patta' (a valid legal document). The civic body has sought legal opinion regarding its next course of action," she said.
Officials were surprised as to how the man did not object for six years. Das said he was under the impression that the government had acquired the land under the Bhubaneswar Development Scheme and would compensate him with another piece of land elsewhere, but later discovered that nothing of that sort had happened.
The confusion arose because of a letter from Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) stating that the plot would be used for development of road network of Kalinga Stadium Development Scheme. On December 7, 2001, BDA planning member, wrote to additional land officer of the general administration (GA) department that the plot would be used for a road. However, Das pleaded with the DA for another piece of land in exchange for his plot. In 2003, BDA clarified to the GA department that there was no acquisition proposal because it did not construct the road. BMC had also clarified to the GA that it too had no such proposal to construct road or acquire the property then. (Copies of the BDA, BMC clarifications are available with TOI). However BMC built the road in 2004. BMC officials said the concrete was laid "by mistake" apparently because a road like structure existed there.
"I know of the man coming to us several times with the grievance. A joint team of BDA, BMC and general administration department had visited the spot. BDA has no role except for the letter that it had written. The complaint has to be addressed by BMC and the general administration department," said BDA secretary Shreekanta Kabi.
Sarita Dhanwar, the officer dealing with the case in BDA, said since BMC has already conveyed to BDA that it built the road in 2004, the matter now lies mainly with the BMC. "However, BDA will take action as per law if it's established that neighbours have also encroached on the property," Dhanwar said.