Irregularities in plots allocation at Bali Yatra

Cuttack: Massive irregularities in the allocation of plots to traders at Bali Yatra ground came to the fore a day after the conclusion of the annual trade fair here.

It has been alleged that a trader had acquired as many as 76 plots for opening stalls at Bali Yatra ground while another trader had managed to secure 18 plots in cahoots with some government officials.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Akhileswar Singh reportedly wrote to district collector Sushant Mahapatra and sought a through probe into the plot allocation scam.

The district administration had introduced online system and mandatory Aadhaar card submission to check irregularities in the allocation of plots at the fair ground. Traders were asked to apply for only one plot each for the mega fair. The administration had charged Rs 27 per square foot while allocating plots to interested parties.

This year, the administration had allocated altogether 912 plots to traders while the Orissa Rural Development and Marketing Society (ORMAS) had opened stalls on 350 plots.

According to sources, a few influential traders had managed to corner multiple plots by greasing the palms of some government officials. Sources said these unscrupulous businessmen had rented out their plots to others at a premium. “Some people had sublet plots at the fair ground by charging anywhere between Rs 300 and Rs 500 per square foot from stall owners. These greedy businessmen did not open a single stall at the mega fair,” said a source.

Notably, a businessman from West Bengal had allegedly acquired 23 plots at last year’s Bali Yatra. He had sublet the plots to others.
It is learnt that some people had acquired big plots at the fair ground and later divided them among traders at fancy prices. “A few traders had managed to secure multiple plots at Bali Yatra ground. We have raised the issue with the district administration,” said the DCP.

Bali Yatra Traders’ Association secretary Sukanta Mohanty, meanwhile, sought an impartial probe into the alleged irregularities.

“We had shifted a few officials to elsewhere after allegations of irregularities in plot allocation came up during last year Bali Yatra. This year, we have not received any such allegation. We are ready to look into plot allocation process if complaints are lodged with us,” said the collector.

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