Pradeep Singh

Bhubaneswar: Nothing could be more inconceivable than the fact that even crematorium land in the capital city is being usurped by land mafia. Following allegations of encroachment of revenue and forest land, such usurpation of crematorium land by land sharks has raised many eyebrows.

Within no time, private parties are erecting buildings on these encroached lands. The unabated encroachment of such land is indeed alarming and the situation is so disconcerting that it has become hard to find crematoriums as demarcated in government records.

In an investigation carried out by OTV, it was found that the Damana village, which has a crematorium spreading over 1.120 acre land (as per records of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation), has been encroached upon with several illegal constructions.

“Several buildings have come on the crematorium land. Due to lack of sufficient area to perform the last rites, people are no longer using it,” said a local, Basudev Sahu.

Another local, Mahendra Behera said that the villagers are still using the graveyard but the government gave a part of the land on lease and some other parts have been taken over by private parties. “We are facing a lot of problems due to the encroachments. We urge the government to evict all those illegal encroachers,” demanded Behera.

Similarly, as per government land records, the ‘Garabadu’ crematorium at Kapilaprasad in the city is spread over 2.5 acre land. However, the ground reality is quite different as nearly 2 acre land has already been illegally encroached upon.

“There’s nothing much left at the crematorium. Some influential people have forcefully encroached upon the land, constructed buildings and rented it out. If the government ensures a transparent investigation, truth will prevail,” said Amrendra Garabadu, a resident of Old Town, Bhubaneswar.

People alleged that three graveyards spreading over 14 acre of land were there in Nayapalli. However, all of it has been leased out to educational institutions and only around half an acre of land is left. The government is constructing an overhead water tank at the crematorium in Gadakan, which is spread over 1.980 acre land.

“Most of the people prefer ‘Swargadwar’ to crematoriums here due to the dismal conditions. From 14 acre, now we are left with almost nothing,” alleged Arjun Behera, a resident of Nayapalli.

The administration uses its force against innocent people, but big businessmen and influential people who usurp these lands are not touched upon, alleged a senior citizen, PK Dash, adding that “Law should be same for all and there should be no discrimination and no separate laws for the poor and the rich.”

Another senior citizen, Krupasindhu Sahu said that stern action on part of the concerned administration could resolve the issue.

BMC Mayor, Ananta Narayan Jena has assured that if any specific land under the BMC is found encroached, it would be freed from the clutches of encroachers. “Stern and immediate action will be taken if any BMC land is found encroached,” said Jena.