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Golf on course, IT can wait
CAG finger at policy flaw

Bhubaneswar, June 24: The golf club here has hit all the right drives to outsmart the information technology (IT) sector and encroached upon land that was supposed to be the latter’s exclusive preserve.

The latest report of the comptroller and auditor general (CAG), which was tabled in the Assembly yesterday, reveals that while several IT companies were denied plots at Infocity, the Bhubaneswar Golf Club was allotted 35.53 acres of prime land there. The club has been functioning from there since August 2001.

The report said that the Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Idco) had allotted the land to the golf club on the condition that it would be handed over to software companies when the demand arose.

The reality, however, was much different. Though the district-level single window clearance authority for industries recommended allotment of five acres of land at Infocity for IT industries between May and August 2009, the government refused to do it citing unavailability of land. `

“Due to irregular permissive possession, IT companies were deprived of land in Bhubaneswar,’’ the report said.

In April last year, the industries department claimed that it was getting rent on the land provided to the golf club, but the CAG report points out that it was at best a temporary arrangement and the land should have been vacated and allotted to IT companies on demand.

BDA in eye of storm

The golf club episode is not the only flaw committed by the state government or its agencies.

The CAG report has criticised the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) for violating rules laid down under the Odisha Development Authority Act, 1982, and the Planning and Building Standards Regulation (PBSR) of BDA.

Citing the example of the Baramunda higher income group (HIG) duplex core housing scheme, the report has pointed to the lack of transparency in the allotment of houses.

The report states that in October 2001, nine houses were allotted to people much before public notice was issued for the scheme.

Allotment of one of these houses, which was done under the discretionary quota of the BDA chairman, was cancelled due to non-payment of dues.

In another case, the CAG has found that transfer of ownership of plots and houses, which can be done only after execution of the lease deed, was permitted by the BDA in violation of the rule.

The report also points out that the BDA did not maintain a uniform criterion while approving building plans.

A test check done by the CAG audit team found that the time taken by the BDA for approving building plans varied from 30 to 828 days. It was also found that applications for approval were not always processed according to their serial numbers.

The CAG has found that plans were approved for buildings that did not have approach roads.

“In the case of HRG Finance and Investment Consultant Private Limited in Bhubaneswar, the land was bisected by a 40ft canal and permission from water resources department had to be obtained, but it was not received by the BDA,’’ the report said.

The report has pointed out that once the BDA gave conditional approval for high-rise buildings or mega projects there was no follow-up action by the authority’s planning wing to verify permission for facilities such as sewerage, drainage, water supply, road, groundwater and environmental clearance