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Plot scam heat singes House

Bhubaneswar, July 23: The issue of nine influential people taking houses from the development authority by submitting false affidavits rocked the Assembly here today.

A communication from the accountant general’s report to the state government states that apart from these nine, 29 other persons have got more than one house using their clout, the names, including MLA Pranab Balabantaray, son of BJD vice-president and Rajya Sabha member Kalapataru Das.

The issue today generated heat in the Assembly and outside with members quoting a report titled “Houses two many for comfort” in today’s edition of The Telegraph.

Raising the issue in the Assembly, the Opposition today trained its guns on Kalpataru Das and demanded a statement from the government on allotment of more than one house or plot to people by the Bhubaneswar Development Authority.

Referring to The Telegraph report, Congress member Naba Kishore Das said: “This government claims to be transparent, but norms are being cast to the wind.”

Pointing to The Telegraph report, Das said: “If a law-maker (BJD MLA Balabantaray) becomes a law-breaker, what will happen to the state?” he asked.

The Congress legislator said Balabantaray’s father Kalpataru Das was very close to chief minister Naveen Patnaik.

“A common man does not get a house or plot if he applies for the same. What is the criteria for allotment?” he asked, demanding a statement from the government. Das was supported by Congress chief whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati and party colleague Prafulla Majhi. They demanded a probe into the matter.

Outside the Assembly, Bahinipati said Naveen had earlier said in the House that the issue of allotment of plots and land violating the norms would be taken up seriously. “However, no action has been taken. We want to know who Kalpataru Das is. It should be clarified.”

The issue of misuse of discretionary quota had hit the state in 2011. The then law minister, Bikram Keshari Arukh, who is now the parliamentary affairs minister, returned one of his houses after allegations surfaced that he had taken two houses violating the principle of the quota.

BJP leader and former housing and urban development minister K.V. Singh Deo said action should be taken against a person who had been allotted more than one house by furnishing false affidavits.

Housing and urban development minister Pushpendra Singh Deo said: “If any irregularity is found, the government will certainly act.”

On his part, Balabantaray reiterated what he told The Telegraph yesterday. “I have got one house in the name of Balabantaray Transport and Minerals Private Limited, of which I am one of the directors and another in my name. The company has 14 to 15 directors and all of them authorised me to apply for the house.”

Das told a private TV channel: “Technically and legally speaking, my son represents another family. He files his income tax return accordingly. He took one house in the name of his company and another in his own name.”


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