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After strike comes work rush

Bhubaneswar, Nov. 26: Officials at two land registration offices here had a tough time dealing with heavy workload as the agitation by lawyers and deed writers was called off today after nearly three months.

With cease-work being called off in “public interest”, nearly 100 registrations took place in the first two hours at the Khurda and Khandagiri sub-registrars’ offices, which are located on the same premises at Kalpana Square.

The registrations were done according to the new benchmark area valuation (BAV) rates of land, which had generated discontent among lawyers and deed writers. They were also upset over BAV rates being revised twice this year. Registration of land had stopped since September 2. Sources at the district sub-registrars’ offices said around 400 people registered their land today. Usually, 300 registrations take place daily.

“We are expecting a bigger crowd on Tuesday, as many people are still not aware that work has resumed,” said district sub-registrar (in charge) Sudhir Kumar Lenka.

While the district sub-registrar’s office generates revenue worth Rs 50 lakh daily, it is around Rs 30 lakh at the Khandagiri sub-registrar’s office.

“We suffered a lot because of the long agitation. I have been visiting the office once every week to find out when the registration work would resume. I was finally able to complete my work today,” said Santosh Behera, who bought a plot near Gadakana two months ago.

The BAV rates are revised biennially by the district valuation committee headed by the district collector. Usually, the decision of the committee, which undertakes a detailed land survey, comes into force in April, but this year it was delayed because the survey work was delayed.

The Khurda district administration decided in April to increase BAV rates in the district by 10 per cent on an ad hoc basis pending final implementation of the committee’s decision.

Following the government’s nod, the committee-approved BAV rates came into force from September 1, triggering discontent among lawyers and deed writers at the two registration offices. While they took exception to rate revision being made twice, they described the new BAV rates recommended by the committee as arbitrarily high.

Since registration cost is seven per cent of the prevailing land rate, the agitators claimed that the new rates would seriously hurt people’s interests.

The strike against the move began on September 2, with lawyers and deed writers staging a demonstration at the two registration offices, where all work came to a halt.

According to the new BAV rates, the value of land has increased to Rs 8 crore per acre at prime locations such as Nayapalli revenue village from Rs 6 crore in 2010. The cost per acre at Jayadev Vihar has gone up to Rs 10 crore from Rs 7 crore two years ago.

The value of land on the outskirts of the city in areas such as Patrapara, Bhagabanpur, Tamando has also increased significantly. While the government valuation used to be Rs 35 lakh per acre at Tamando, it has now shot up to Rs 1 crore. The value of land has increased to Rs 1.5 crore from Rs 75 lakh in 2010 at Patrapara.

However, Khurda sub-collector Saroj Samal justified the move. “As the government had not approved the revised BAV recommended by the district valuation committee, the district administration had decided to enforce a 10 per cent hike in April on an ad hoc basis. We enforced the revised rates in September once we got the nod of the state government,” said Samal.