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Pradeep Singh

Allegations of unauthorised construction activities by filling up natural water bodies have come to fore in Bhubaneswar against the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT).

It is alleged that illegal constructions are underway in Patia region by filling up a natural water body for setting up the Computer Science department of the private educational institution.

As per the allegations, after getting a piece of land in their name, the KIIT authorities filled up a part of the water body adjacent to it and started the construction works.

As per the government records, Plot No. 50 and Plot No. 121, where the construction works are underway, are mentioned as water bodies (Jalapata and Pani Nala, respectively). Besides, the Sub-Plot 1593 of Plot No. 50 is registered as double crop land in the records.

Questions are now being raised as to how the sub-plot of the water body has converted into agricultural land. Moreover, even though Plot No. 121 is recorded as a water body (Pani Nala), the said piece of land has allegedly been filled up and construction works are underway on it.

Meanwhile, resentment has started brewing among locals over the alleged encroachment of the water bodies to facilitate the construction activities. “Plot No. 121 Pani Nala has divided Patia and Raghunathpur ‘mauza’ into two parts. But the natural water body is now being filled up and a road has also been constructed to use the land,” said Tapan Baliarsingh, a local.

“Jalasaya (water body) land can’t be used without changing its classification. So far I know, earlier, collectors used to change the classification but now, following the High Court’s order, RDC is changing it,” said Sarat Sahoo, a retired revenue department official.

On the allegations of using the water bodies for construction purpose, Sahoo said a ‘proposal for classification change must have been sent; and, it must have gone through a legal procedure’.

As changing the Jalasaya land kisam is not possible (as per the rule), several questions are now being raised as to who had given the permission for construction works on Jalasaya land? Has the local administration shown undue favour to KIIT founder Achyuta Samanta who is a BJD MP? Are government officials aware of the alleged encroachment, but silent? Are KIIT authorities throwing rules to the wind as the founder of the institution is a BJD MP?

Though OTV tried to contact the officials of the State Revenue Department for their opinion on the matter, it could not be possible. Besides, the city engineer of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) feigned his ignorance when asked about the matter.

“There is a special team for eviction of natural water bodies’ encroachment on a priority basis. It (alleged illegal constructions by KIIT) is yet to come to our notice. We will take action accordingly,” said BMC city engineer, Arun Nayak.

The public relations officer of KIIT spoke to OTV on the matter, but denied to speak in front of the camera.

Reportedly, KIIT has bought the sub-plot 1593 of Plot No. 50. And, construction on the same plot is underway. Besides, they refuted the allegations of any type of ongoing construction work on Plot No. 121.

On the other hand, this natural water body is connected to Gangua river (through Patia and Raghunathpur) and witnesses migration of several species of birds during the winter. Hence, its preservation is also important from an environmental point of view.

However, due to the alleged illegal filling up, these migratory birds can no longer be seen in the region. “We have failed to preserve the beautiful sight of Raghunathpur water body and subsequently, the migratory birds visiting the area,” rued environmentalist, Manas Mishra.

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