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Odisha govt cancels land allotment in favour of minister’s son

Bhubaneswar: Criticised for alleged arbitrary allotment of valuable land in the state capital, the Odisha government has cancelled the lease of a land, which was given to the son of a senior BJD minister.

"The state government has cancelled the lease in November 2012 and forfeited the premium and interest," the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in its latest report on general and social sector said.

Though the CAG report did not mention name of the minister and his son in its report, records of the general administration department showed that the land was leased out to Biplab Patro, son of revenue minister S N Patro.

The CAG, however, said the land near the DAV School at Unit-8 was allotted in gross violation of the government's well-stated land use policy.

The minister, however, said, "I have nothing to say at this moment."

The CAG in its report said that upon application for allotment of 2 acre of land in unit-8 area, Hotel Ambassador International was allotted 1.010 acre of land as per recommendation of the government by changing land use zone from "residential" to "commercial".

"The entire process of allotment was completed within 56 days and the applicant was allowed to pay premium at institutional rate (Rs 50 lakh per acre) against applicable commercial rate (Rs 75 lakh per acre), that too in eight installments as per its request," the CAG pointed out in its report.

After one installment, the allottee (the minister's son) requested to change the lease in favour of "Hotel South Pac Private Limited", a company promoted by his family members for which approval was accorded and premium (Rs 6.32 lakh) already paid was adjusted against the total premium of Rs 50.50 lakh, the CAG pointed said in its report.

Though the lessee was required to complete construction by July 2003, it failed to do so, the CAG said adding that due to non-construction within stipulated time, the allotment was required to be cancelled.
CAG said the state government only issued a show cause notice (February 2006) and no other action was taken. The government instead instructed the lessee in May 2007 to complete construction within one year. "However, despite this, the lessee received further extension up to September 2012," the auditor said.

"Besides, the company was extended undue benefits of Rs 25 lakh by charging lease premium at Rs 50 lakh per acre against the prevalent market value of land of Rs 75 lakh per acre," the CAG said.

However, despite all these benefits, the land continued to remain unused except construction of boundary wall and one small hut in October 2012, the CAG said adding that it had been informed in November that the government has cancelled the lease and forfeited the premium and interest.

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