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Ramakanta Biswas

Puri: In a display of strong resentment over Bagala Dharmasala land controversy, Odisha Congress on Tuesday staged a dharna in the town demanding dismissal of the district collector and other officials for their alleged involvement in the ‘illegal’ sale of the land.

According to sources, members of youth Congress led by MLA Suresh Routray and Satya Prakash Nayak sat on a dharna in front of the dharmasala and demanded to cancel the sale deeds pertaining to the land.

“The sale of dharmasala land must be cancelled. We supported the State government when it dismantled mutts for the beautification of Srimandir. But, we never supported the sale of dharmasala land. We demand the government to construct a building of 500 rooms over the land for the benefits of the devotees,” MLA Suresh Routray said.

“The dharmasala is a 100-year-old heritage property. Should the government sale it or preserve it? Is the government planning to construct market complex, hotels and private commercial markets in its place?” party leader Satya Prakash Nayak questioned.

Meanwhile, defending the allegations, Puri district administration has come up with a clarification saying, “the land in question was never sold to anyone who is not connected with the project rather allotted and transferred to the displaced lodge owners, yatri nivas, dharmasala and hotels as per resettlement assistance provisions of the Rehabilitation and Resettlement (R&R) package.”

The clarification issued by the district administration reads, “There is some mis-information regarding compensation accorded to displaced lodge owners in the "Development of Heritage Security Corridor around Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri. A total of 27 lodges are displaced and as per the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy approved by Government, the lodge owners had two resettlement option- one-time cash settlement or Land as an option as per Para 3B (b) of the Resettlement assistance as per the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Package.”

“The Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy had the approval of Cabinet and it was designed in such a way so as to motivate people to come forward and offer their land for the project. Till date, 6 of the lodge owners out of 27 exercised the option of land as resettlement assistance.  The resettlement plots were allotted to them on payment of benchmark value as per Section 17 of Registration Act, 1908,” the notification stated.

(Edited By Suryakant Jena)

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