Odishatv Bureau

Puri: The district administration has ordered an inquiry into the grabbing of Swargadwar land allegedly by some private parties thereby squeezing the cremation ground in the beach town considered holy across Odisha.

The crematorium, which was once capable of cremating a number of bodies simultaneously, has become narrow due to the encroachment. Some people have managed to register part of the land in their names in settlement records while others have made pattas for the government land. Many hotels, lodges and private schools have been constructed on the encroached land.

"We are inquiring how the ownership of the land has been transferred to private parties' name. The old records are being examined to find out the authenticity," said Collector Arvind Agarwal.

The Govardhan Peeth, which had donated 16 acres of land in 1936 for the crematorium, also demanded an inquiry. "A high level investigation should be conducted as a sprawling 16-acre piece of land has been squeezed into only one and half acres. The religious crematorium has also been surrounded by different business establishments," Manoj Rath, Govardhan Peeth spokesperson, said.

On the other hand, some hotels adjacent to it have welcomed the administration's move.

"The government lands are for the public. If the government takes possession of such land, people will benefit. But the administration should look into the rehabilitation aspect of the hoteliers who would be displaced," Sarat Sahoo, a hotelier, said.