CPM demands CBI probe into house allotment

Bhubaneswar: Amid the row over misuse of discretionary quota in allotment of government houses in the state capital and Cuttack, CPI-M on Friday demanded a CBI probe into the matter while political parties favoured abolition of such a provision.

The CPI(M) organised a protest rally outside the office of Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) alleging that precious houses and land in the state capital were being looted by influential people like ministers, ruling party MLAs, judges, bureaucrats and senior police officers.

Alleging that BDA`s guideline of one house to one family was being violated, CPI-I alleged that ministers and their family members were getting undue favour by the Urban Development ministers. Under discretionary quota, the state`s Urban Development minister was entitled to allot 10 per cent of BDA and 5 per cent of Cuttack Development Authority (CDA) houses.

"Though there is specific Supreme Court guidelines for use of discretionary quota by the minister, it has not been followed," alleged CPI-M`s Bhubaneswar district secretary Suresh Panigrahi.

Meanwhile, admitting gross misuse of the discretionary quota for allotment of government houses, the three major political parties including the ruling BJD favoured a proposal of abolition of the provision.

"I do not think provision of discretionary quota is democratic. Therefore, it should be abolished," BJD`s senior MP Pyari Mohan Mohapatra, told reporters here. Mohapatra is considered as the chief advisor of the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Niranjan Patnaik also supported the idea of scrapping the provision as it created more divide in the society. "Action should be taken against the UD ministers who misused the discretionary quota," he said.

Similarly, the BJP state president Jual Oram too support the proposal stating that the politicians misusing the provision should be booked under the provision of the law. The issue relating to the discretionary quota was being widely discussed after release of the property list  of ministers by the chief minister.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik had also said the government was seriously examining on the provision of the discretionary quota system. Law minister Bikram Keshari Arukh had, meanwhile admitted to have taken two BDA houses under the discretionary quota. The minister offered to return one of the two houses amidst demand of his resignation from the council of ministers.

Besides Arukh, BJD senior law maker Pravat Biswal was also found to have taken two houses under the UD minister`s discretionary quota in the CDA area. By availing the houses at cheap price, Biswal allegedly sold them away at higher price.