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Naveen’s jewellery box shrinks

Bhubaneswar, Nov. 30: Bachelorhood, it seems, is the only ornament that chief minister Naveen Patnaik flaunts.

The socialite author-turned-politician, who celebrated his 67th birthday last month, is not a great lover of jewellery or gemstones. And the little stock that he had of these seems to be shrinking.

The latest statement of assets by the chief minister, put up on Thursday, shows that though his net worth has gone up from around Rs 8 crore to something in the vicinity of Rs 12 crore, he has precious little to boast of by way of jewellery in his possession.

The exercise to put up Naveen’s own property list, as well as that of his ministerial colleagues, on his official website is apparently aimed at projecting an image of transparency.

While he had gold and diamond jewellery worth Rs 1.50 lakh in 2009, according to the affidavit submitted by him before the Election Commission, the current value of the ornaments in his possession has been reduced to just Rs 1.15 lakh.

The chief minister’s jewellery box boasts of a gold ring, a gold pendant and chain apart from rubies and diamonds. Naveen, though, has hardly ever been seen wearing any kind of jewellery in public. Clad in his trademark white kurta and ankle-length pyjama with a pair mundane chappals to go with it, he cuts a rather austere image.

The bulk of his property that the chief minister has, is inherited from his father Biju Patnaik and mother Gyan Patnaik, both of whom are no more.

His immovable assets include 22.7 acres of farmland at Faridabad with an estimated value of Rs 3.43 crore. His share in Naveen Niwas, his residence in the capital city, is worth Rs 2.80 crore.

Naveen’s share in his Aurangazab Road residence in New Delhi is Rs 5.14 crore, while his portion of the Ananda Bhawan property at Cuttack is priced at Rs 51 lakh. His bank balance has gone up from Rs 9.17 lakh to 15 lakh in the past three years. The chief minister owns a 1980 model Ambassador car.

In contrast, assets of his two cabinet colleagues — finance minister Prasanna Acharaya and revenue minister Surjya Narayan Patro — have gone up almost two fold between 2009 and now. The finance minister’s property has gone up to Rs 5.98 crore from Rs 2.62 crore. This includes a house in his wife’s name at Sailashree Vihar in Bhubaneswar valued at Rs 56 lakh and two buildings at Bargarh valued at Rs 11.55 lakh.

Acharya also owns 465 grams of gold, an SUV and valuable agriculture land.

“I have neither constructed a new house, nor bought any property. However, the value of my properties has gone up with their market price going up four times. I have submitted my property list honestly and the same has also been given to the income tax department and the Election Commission,” Acharya said.

The value of properties in the possession of Patro has gone up to Rs 4.34 crore from Rs 2.06 crore in the past three years. While his house at Dwarka in Delhi is valued at Rs 38 lakh, his Nayapalli house here commands a price of Rs 1.34 crore and his Digapahandi house in Ganjam district is pegged at Rs 8.53 lakh.

“As the bench market value of the land has gone up, the price of my properties has also gone up,” said the minister who, however, claims to own no car of his own.

However, there are six cars in his family in the name of his sons and daughters.

The property lists posted on the website reveal that the newly inducted minister of state for energy, Arun Sahu, is at the bottom of the pile with total assets worth Rs.24 lakh.