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Warring veterans clear air over plot

Bhubaneswar, July 29: Ruling BJD vice-president and Rajya Sabha member Kalpataru Das today sought to clear the air over the alleged illegal allotment of more than one house to his family members asserting that no rules had been violated.

“When my wife was allotted a house in 2001 at Prachi Enclave no other member of my family had any house in his or her name,” said Das, who was obliged to come up with an explanation following an attack from some of his own party colleagues on the issue.

On his MLA son, Pranab Balabantray, being allotted two houses, Das said: “He got these houses under two different schemes. Under one of these schemes, the Bhubaneswar Development Authority at the time of application did not seek an affidavit on whether the applicant’s family members have any other house in their name.”

The former minister said the fact of the matter was that at that point of time, the development authority was finding it hard to sell those houses, which appeared to have been the reason for relaxation.

“So my son got it under the discretionary quota. The other house he got through lottery for the transport company, of which he is one of the directors,” said Das, whose clout within the ruling party is believed to have been seriously affected by the controversy.

Das also sought to make it clear that there was no house or plot in his name. However, he appeared to make a somersault as far as his earlier statement about his son and wife representing different families is concerned. “Me and his wife belong to a single family. But my son represents another family. He files his income tax return accordingly,” said the leader.

However, senior minister and BJD vice-president Damodar Rout kept up his tirade against Das, saying that since the issue was raised in the Assembly, it required a detailed investigation. Earlier, Rout had mocked the Rajya Sabha member for trying to defend his family on the issue by coming up with a queer definition of “family”.

Talking to The Telegraph, Rout had said: “There is a well-defined policy of the government on land distribution and allotment of houses. Anybody while applying for a house in Bhubaneswar has to furnish an affidavit that he does not have a land either in his name or that of his members in the city. Then only he can be eligible for allotment of a homestead plot or a house. But, it seems in this case this well-defined policy has not been followed.”

Earlier, Puri MLA Maheswar Mohanty had also taken potshots at Das without naming him bringing the rift within the ruling party over the issue clear.

The controversy took centre stage after accountant general wrote a letter to the state government citing irregularities in the allotment of two houses to 29 persons, including Pranab Balabantray. Besides, the accountant general also stated that nine influential people had taken houses from the development authority by submitting false affidavits.

Now, pressure is building up on the government to ask all such allottees to return the surplus land plots or houses allotted to them. In 2011, present parliamentary affairs minister Bikram Keshari Arukh had to return one of the two houses allotted to his family when objections were raised to such allotment.


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