Post News Network
Bhubaneswar, Oct 2: The state government does not have land records or ‘pattas’ for a whopping 28,845 acres of land in the name of Lord Jagannath spread across 111 tehsils in 23 districts.
According to data available with the law department, a total of 59,127 acres are estimated to be under the possession of the Sri Jagannath Temple Administration, but sources say the government is clueless on the fate of nearly half of the said land.
The government had planned to put part of the temple land on auction with the hope of boosting the revenues of the 12th century shrine. That plan however hit a roadblock as the government is struggling to acquire the Record of Rights (RoR) for almost half of the land owned by the temple.
The temple land is spread across 23 districts such as Puri, Khurda, Nayagarh, Kendrapara, Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, Rayagada, Koraput, Bolangir, Subarnapur, Jajpur, Bhadrak, Balasore, Sambalpur, Bargarh, Ganjam, Gajapati, Dhenkanal, Angul, Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj and Sundargarh.
Sources said of the total land, the SJTA – the body that is tasked with managing the affairs of the temple – does not have the RoR for as many as 28,845 acres of land that are in the name of the Trinity.
“The SJTA has pattas for only 30,282 acres of temple land. There are no records of 28,845 acres,” an official in the law department said on the condition that he not be named. “Nobody knows where the land is and what its present condition is. It might have been encroached upon,” the official added.
Of the 30,282 acres of land for which the government has pattas, 6,637 acres in 59 tehsils across nine districts are under the custody of 11,850 sharecroppers from whom the government collects revenue of Rs 40 lakh per annum.
Committees were formed under the chairmanship of collectors in all concerned districts to collect details on the temple land and expedite the process of acquiring revised records, but sources say a lack of manpower and resources are inordinately delaying the process, thus giving land sharks free rein over the lands.
“Thousands of acres of temple land are encroached upon and if the pattas are not recovered at an early stage, it would result in a huge loss of immovable property and revenue for the temple,” said an SJTA official.
Chief administrator of the temple authority Suresh Mohapatra admitted a huge chunk of temple land was off their radar. He added the board was aware of the seriousness of the issue and was doing its best to get details.
“Inadequate manpower and a large number of pending court cases are delaying the process of acquiring land pattas. The process is time-consuming. Retired OAS officials have been engaged to get details on these properties but we still require much more manpower,” Mohapatra told this newspaper.
“We will advise the committees formed under district collectors to expedite the process,” the chief administrator said.
The state government had in August decided to create a Srimandir corpus fund of `1,000 crore by selling temple land.