State govt admits land encroachment

Bhubaneswar: Alleging lack of efforts to retrieve government land under encroachment, opposition Congress on Saturday walked out of the Odisha Assembly even as Revenue Minister S N Patro assured the members that all land in illegal possession would be freed.

"Valuable government land at different places of the state including the state capital, Cuttack, Puri, Konark, Jajpur were under illegal possession of individuals," Patro told the assembly, replying to an adjournment motion debate.

The worth of land under encroachment here would be at least Rs 2,000 crore, the minister said adding that a special cell has been set up at the revenue department to ensure return of such lands. "Out of 9,454.801 acre of land under encroachment, the government retrieved 2516.015 acre so far."

Rejecting the allegation that the government had made no effort to free encroached land, the minister said a new legislation was being made to ensure smooth recovery of land.

"We have been referring land encroachment cases to the Crime Branch for investigation," the minister said.

Congress chief whip Prasad Harichandan, however, alleged that the government had made no effort to recover land and said the crime branch was not doing its duties thus giving time to encroaches to legalise their land in fraudulent manner.

"Of the 60 land encroachment cases handed over to the crime branch, only one case has so far been finalised," Harichandan said adding that the CBI on the other hand doing excellent job in certain land scams.