The Telegraph
Monday , July 28 , 2014
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Rout stokes plot scam fire

Damodar Rout

Bhubaneswar, July 27: The controversy over allotment of more than one government house to influential people, including an MLA, who happens to be the son of BJD Rajya Sabha member Kalpataru Das, continues to generate heat.

The issue had rocked the Assembly after The Telegraph carried a report on the issue on July 23 based on a letter written to the state government by the accountant general (AG).

BJD vice-president and excise minister Damodar Rout further stoked the controversy today mocking Das for trying to defend his family, including MLA son Pranab Balabantray who has been allotted more than one house by the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA). His wife has also got a plot of land from the state government.

Talking to The Telegraph, Rout said: “There is a well-defined policy of the government on land distribution and allotment of houses. Any body 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 a homestead plot or a house. But it seems, in this case, this well-defined policy has not been followed.”

He said that the basic objective of the discretionary quota, under which Balabantray had been allotted one of the two houses, was aimed at helping people who essentially need a shelter in Bhubaneswar. But it cannot be allotted according to the “sweet will” of the chairman of the various housing boards, including the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA), but only after due consideration of the facts placed before them.

“In any case, where the land or house allotment policy is violated, the chairperson has to cancel the allotment under the discretionary quota,” he said.

Taking a dig at Kalpataru Das, Rout said: “A major and married son may be considered as a separate family, but this is not applicable for land/ house allotment in Bhubaneswar. Besides, wife or husband cannot be treated as a separate family. So if any violation is detected, law should take its own course.”

Earlier after his family’s name surfaced in the house allotment scheme, Das had said: “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.”

As per the AG’s report to the state government, 29 persons, including Balabantray, had got more than one house. Besides, nine influential people have taken houses from the BDA by submitting false affidavits.

Sources said pressure is building up on the government to ask all the allottees to return the land/house if they had taken more than one.

In 2011, the present parliamentary affairs minister Bikram Keshari Arukh had to return one house after twos were found in his and his wife’s name.

“If Arukh had to return one house, why the same policy should not be applicable to others,” said a senior leader.