Allocation scam: Will the big fish be caught?

Bhubaneswar: Even as the State government is following the modalities set by the Task Force on allotment of land, plot and flats by development agencies in the twin cities, civil society members have raised doubts whether the influential persons like ministers, MLAs and top bureaucrats would come under the purview of Vigilance.

Going by the list released by Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA), Parliamentary Affairs minister Bikram Keshari Arukh’s name has been mentioned as a beneficiary of two houses. While he was allotted an HIG flat in Anant Vihar Phase-II under discretionary quota, his wife Jay Laxmi Arukh was allotted another house at Subuddhipur in Anant Vihar.

However, though the minister had surrendered one house after the quota controversy surfaced, his name is still in the Task Force report against whom it has recommended legal action.

Similarly, a flat in Kalinga Vihar was allotted to the wife of Tourism minster Ashok Panda in 1996 under the quota. After seven months, he was allotted another house in the same area. Though he had sold off one house before taking the possession of the second, his name has been listed in the report.

Similar is the case with Dharmasala MLA Pranab Balabantaroy who had got three flats – one in his own name, another in his wife’s name and the third one in the name of a company owned by him. The Task Force report has also listed his name as beneficiary of multiple flats.

Besides, a number of top bureaucrats and many other influential persons have also availed multiple flats/plots/houses under different housing schemes of the State government.

“Since they are all big shots, we don’t think the State government will initiate any action against them,” said an official on the condition of anonymity. “Government is apparently trying to bend the rules to favour them. That’s why it is taking so much of time,” he added.

Meanwhile, lawyers feel that the beneficiaries whose names have appeared in the Task Force report for availing multiple flats/house/plots, can’t escape from the law. “They (beneficiaries) will have to come under Vigilance purview,” said Manas Mohapatra.