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Mrunal Manmay Dash

Bhubaneswar: Over 25,000 acre of land in the name of Puri Lord Jagannath in the State is yet to be reclaimed by the temple administration, a reply by Odisha Law Minister Pratap Jena during a debate State Assembly suggested about the situation on Tuesday.

“According to the compiled data, Lord Jagannath has 60426.943 acre of land in his name spread over 24 districts of the Odisha, out of which the Jagannath Temple Administration has ownership records of 34703.013 acre of land till now," Jena was quoted as saying in the Assembly.

“A total of 864 illegal encroachment cases have been registered under the Jagannath Temple Act-1955, Section 16-A(1) following a detailed investigation of all the encroached lands originally belonging to Lord Jagannath,” replied Jena.

Similarly, out of total 395.282 acre of land presently lying in the name of Lord Jagannath in six States other than Odisha, the maximum area of land of 322.930 acre is present in West Bengal alone followed by over 17 acre of land in AP & 28 acre in Maharashtra, Jena informed the House while elaborating the status of the Lord's land property.

According to the report provided by Jena, West Bengal has the largest share of land apart from Odisha with a total of 322.930 acre lying in the name of Lord Jagannath. Similarly, Andhra Pradesh has 17.020 acre of land followed by Maharashtra with 28.218 acre, Madhya Pradesh 25.110 acre, Bihar 0.274 acre and Chhattisgarh with 1.700 acre of Lord Jagannath’s land.

Notably, illegal encroachments on Lord Jagannath’s land are quite rampant in Odisha and beyond. Eviction and anti-encroachment drives have been undertaken by the State government from time to time. Police and Khurda district administration had recently raided illegal sandstone (Baulamala Stone) quarries at Hadapada in the district following a tip-off about the theft of precious sandstones from the area by a stone mining mafia.

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