Puri: The controversy surrounding Bagala Dharmasala land in Puri continues to take twists and turns with each passing day. In a fresh development, information obtained through an RTI application has revealed that the lodge owners and servitors who have been allotted plots in the dharmasala land had earlier received huge amount of compensation in lieu of their lands for the Srimandir heritage corridor project.
This is contrary to the claim of the district administration that the lodge owners had donated their centuries-old lands for the Srimandir heritage corridor project and the land of Bagala Dharmasala was not sold, but used to rehabilitate them.
The RTI info revealed that the lodge owners had already received compensation to the tune of crores of rupees from the government for their lands.
Owner of Sandhya Lodge, Batakrushna Mudra, said, “The administration had purchased my land and promised to provide me land in Bagala Dharmasala. Now I paid money and the administration registered the land in my name. As per the agreement, they will also provide me compensation of Rs 17 to 18 lakh for constructing house.”
The RTI query also revealed that Mudra received Rs 70.79 lakh as compensation for eviction of his lodge.
Similarly, around Rs 7.47 crore as compensation was given for eviction of a lodge owned by a servitors’ Nijog. The district collector on August 7 sold a land of Bagala Dharmasala to the secretary of the Nijog, Rabi Narayan Das.
Another lodge owner, Deepak Sahu, received Rs 2.56 crore as compensation from the administration.
Meanwhile, questions are being raised as to how the administration claimed that the land owners donated their lands when they received compensation for it.
Social activist, Jagannath Bastia said, “Nobody had donated or sacrificed their land, but had sold off their lands at twice the market price. The Bagala Dharmasala land was also sold and not used for rehabilitation. The claim of the collector that the land was not sold is false.”
Advocate Ramesh Prasad Singh said, “Puri Collector does not have the authority to sell or purchase the land. He can temporarily or permanently release the land.”
While the BJP and CPM staged protest over the issue in Puri, senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra has also launched an attack on the State government.
“A handful of IAS officers are of the view that they are genius and will do large-scale misappropriation. I do not know whether such incident are coming to the attention of CM Naveen Patnaik or not.”
Speaking on the issue, former Puri MLA Maheswar Mohanty had said on Saturday, “I feel there is less willingness and more politics in the issue. The government should look into it.”