Land allotment by GA Dept arbitrary: CAG

Bhubaneswar: The report of the Auditor and Comptroller General (CAG) on “general and social sector”, tabled in Assembly on Saturday, has lambasted the General Administration (GA) department of Odisha Government for allocating 464.47 acre land during 2000-12 in an arbitrary manner. The CAG report says, “During 2000-12, GA Department allotted 464.47 acre land. Despite such a huge volume of land allotted during the period, there was no policy or procedure framed by the departments for allotment of Government land in Bhubaneswar”.
The CAG has observed that apart from GA Department, various other government authorities in Bhubaneswar such as Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) and Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO) were also allotting land for similar purposes, namely, educational institutions, hotels and hospitals. The CAG report says, “However, there was no clear demarcation regarding jurisdiction for allotment by these authorities”.
On being enquired about the criteria for allotment of land, the Special Secretary, GA Department stated in September 2012 that the allotment of government land in BMC area was governed by the Government Grants Act, 1895 (1895). It was also stated that some land was allotted for establishment of hotels which was recognized as industry generating substantial employment and for setting up hospitals for providing quality health services in the city.
The CAG, however, has observed that GG Act only clarifies the authority of the state government to allot land. It does not prescribe any objective criteria or guidelines for guiding the exercise of powers under the Act. Further no rules have been framed under the Act by the state government. The CAG report says, “Section 3 of the Act gives discretion to the state government to allot/cancel leases. It is this discretion that the state government in the GA department has been exercising to allot government land”.
Making a scathing attack, the CAG report says, “In the absence of any rules framed under GG Act and lack of stated criteria to guide the discretion of the state, the process of allotment of land was prone to arbitrariness and lack of transparency”.