Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government plans to introduce a stringent law soon to prevent government land encroachment which will have provision of rigorous imprisonment for offenders of such crimes.
The jail term for first-time offenders would be between one year to seven years and a fine of Rs 20,000. For habitual offenders, the jail term could be as long as 10 years and six months with a fine of Rs 30,000.The cases of land grabbing and encroachment would be dealt in a special court, said Bijayashree Routray, state revenue minister.
“The special court will have power equivalent to a district court and there will be no appealing authority except the High Court of Odisha,” he added.
The state government had decided to bring in a new law to prevent land grabbing after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Bijay Mohapatra exposed a 76-acre government land encroachment case in Ghangapatna village on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar. After the revelation, an enquiry conducted by Khurda district officials found that 41 acre land was sold several times even after expiry of its lease validity while 35 acre land was encroached by some influential people. The government has already reverted the land back into its account.
Apart from bringing in the law to punish the culprits in land grabbing cases, the state government is planning to bring in another legislation related to encroachment of natural canals and drains, which are being land filled by some unscrupulous real estate developers for their projects. “In this case, the offender would be charged with a fine of Rs 1,000 per day till the fine amount reaches the market value of the land. An enquiry in this regard is on,” said Routray.
The revenue department has already completed draft bill for the purpose and it has been sent to the law department for vetting. “We will place the bill for passage, probably in the next assembly session,” he added.
Earlier this week, the minister had stated that the law will make sub-registrars accountable for any irregularity found in land transaction. If found guilty, the land registrars would be asked to pay the fine from their salary and could be dismissed from their jobs.
However, before enacting the new rules, the state government might have to repeal the existing Odisha Prevention of Land Encroachment Act, 1979.
It is also planning to make stricter rules regarding conversion of agricultural land and would issue a notification in this regard soon. Though the rules will be applicable to urban areas such as Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, it can be applied in other areas too, the minister informed. In a separate development, the police today arrested seven government officials in Ghangapatna land grabbing case.