File picture of the Idco office in Bhubaneswar
Bhubaneswar, Aug. 31: One more incident about gross misuse of land has tumbled out of the closet to haunt the already beleaguered Naveen Patnaik government.
The Comptroller and Auditor General in its latest report has pointed out 521 cases of people having converted land availed for industrial use into girls hostels, educational institutes, cement godowns and car showrooms. In certain cases these plots have even been lent out for installing telephone towers.
All these lands were taken from the Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Idco).
The issue has assumed significance after revenue minister Bijyashree Routray drew flak for constructing his residence on the land allotted to his wife for setting up a nursing home. He sought to justify his action saying that a large number of people have made such diversions.
What’s alarming, all these irregularities have happened within Bhubaneswar and on the outskirts in Mancheswar, Rasulgarh and Chandaka industrial areas, right under the nose of the state administration and Idco.
While in one case a plot allotted for setting up leaf spring manufacturing unit has been converted into a vehicle spare part godown in Mancheswar, in another case land meant for a prawn and seafood processing unit has been turned into a vehicle godown.
In yet another case, a plot taken for establishing a pharmaceutical unit has been given to a deposit collection company.
Similarly, land taken to set up a condom manufacturing units was sub-let to a Honda pump and power tiller unit and, in another case, plots for setting up chewing gum, nuts and bolts units were converted into educational educational institutes.
Some of the entrepreneurs have also converted their industrial sheds into cement godowns and hostels. Land allotted for different industrial purposes such as vehicle servicing and repairing, quality testing laboratory and fabrication unit were sub-let to other non-allottees at a consideration amount not even known to Idco.
Significantly, in the Mancheswar industrial area 222 allottees have diverted their plots for other purposes. At least 108 of them got the plots between 2000 and 2009.
In the Rasulgarh Industrial areas, 26 sheds and plots have been converted for other purposes. While in one case the land allotted to set up steel furniture grills was used for manufacturing tobacco, in another land given for manufacturing TV cabinets was sub-let to a media house for running its canteen and parking vehicles.
In Chandaka, yet another industrial estate of the capital city, 18 entrepreneurs have similarly diverted the plots allotted to them for other purposes.
In certain cases, plots availed to set up IT and software development units were sublet for making hostels and godowns. .
Sources in the office of the Accountant General (AG) revealed that the 521 industrial units were allotted 219.73 acres in different industrial estates at a concession. While 20 units were used for setting up hostels, four constructed hotels on them, 188 set up godowns and another 144 units were sub-let for other purposes. Another 165 beneficiaries also diverted their land.
Though Idco is required to keep regular watch on the plots allotted for industrial purposes, it seems to have turned a blind eye to such misuse of property.
“Even in cases where misuse was detected, no notice was served on the erring units,” said an official.
Sources in the industry department said that such violations had become rampant for want of regular physical verification.