The Telegraph
Sunday , August 24 , 2014
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Boundary wall falls to land-grab protest

Bhubaneswar, Aug. 23: Local people today demolished the boundary wall put up around a part of a disputed patch of 100 acres near Ghangpatna village in the Chandaka forest on the city outskirts.

The villagers, supported by BJP workers, also raised slogans against Rajya Sabha member Kalpataru Das and his son, Dharmasala MLA Pranab Balabantaray, for trying to grab their land.

Yesterday, Balabantaray confessed that the Gokarneswar Charitable Trust, of which, he was a trustee, had purchased a part of this land. Though in 2012, the land was sold away, but his name still figures in the patta (land document).

Armed with shovels and spades, the local people, including women, blocked the road leading up to the land. They also dug up the road, which, too, has become controversial with none of the government departments making it clear as yet as to which of them has constructed it.

BJP leader Sudipta Ray, who organised the movement, said: “The villagers are agitated with the grabbing of land by influential people. They have launched their agitation to get justice, and we have only assisted them. We will intensify the agitation.” Sources said the BJP was planning to organise a demonstration on the issue before the Raj Bhavan on August 26.

In another development, the state government has begun a probe into the construction of the 3-km road connecting the 100 acres patch.

Revenue minister Bijoyshree Routray said: “The exercise has already begun to find out who has built this road in Chandaka forest area. We are expecting this report by Monday.”

Sources said the 3-km road was built by the panchayati raj department under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme. However, panchayati raj minister Arun Sahoo and the department’s principal secretary D.K. Singh today refused to comment on the issue.

Sources also revealed that the road was built when BJD Rajya Sabha member Kalpataru Das was the panchayati raj minister between 2012 to May 2014. “Only after the inquiry is over, will we be clear as to which department constructed the road,” said an official.

Zilla parisad member Dactor Behera said: “The road was constructed without the approval of the palli sabha. It was built on the parbat kisam (hill type) land — which is illegal. Steps should be initiated to return the land to the villagers in the area.”