BHUBANESWAR: It may become a longdrawn legal process before the state government could retrieve land grabbed by influential persons at Ghangapatna, on the outskirts of the city.
The state government has announced to have "recovered" 76 acre, including 5.5 acre belonging to Rajya Sabha member Kalpataru Das' MLA son Pranab Balabantray and Gokarneswar Trust, of which Pranab is a trustee, besides seven acre from Nivriti Export Private Limited, in which state BJP president KV Singhdeo's wife Sangeeta (a former MP) and daughter Nivriti are directors.
Balabantray and KV expressed "surprise" as to how revenue minister Bijayshree Routray announced to have recovered the land "overnight". "I have not received any communication from the government in this regard," said Balabantray.
KV said the minister's announcement seems ridiculous as it is impossible for the government to regain land without issuing notice to persons who possess it. "Nivriti Export bought the land from private individuals without violation of any stipulation. If government has any objection it has to issue notice first and give the company a due hearing," said KV, adding that "The government articulation is an attempt to malign my political image." Nivriti Export had bought the "Baje fasal-3" land between 2003 and 2008.
Government sources said the land were those leased to different ex-servicemen and landless persons under Government Grants Act 1895 and Orissa Land Resettlement Act, 1962 but exchanged hands multiple times.
Since the leaseholders used the land for purposes other than allotted in violation of the Acts, the government cancelled lease under provisions of these two Acts. The tehsildars "illegally" allowed such conversions under the Orissa Land Reforms Act 1960.
In September last year, the revenue department had issued a circular, a reiteration of government's earlier order of 1998, that all such land violating lease condition are liable for resumption and return to government's custody. However, while many of these land pieces have been sold and re-sold several times, houses have come up in others. Any government attempt would invite litigation. The revenue minister is confdent of retrieving the grabbed land. "The government has taken steps to recover the land. We will fight it in the court if these come under legal scrutiny," he said.