Bhubaneswar: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has revealed that the state government has acquired about 44.10 acres in Kalahandi district without paying compensation to the owners, thereby violating the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act.
Describing the act as a ‘blatant disregard’ to the property rights of the concerned land owners, the CAG, in its latest report, held the Revenue and Disaster Management (R&DM) department responsible for illegal acquisition of private land.
It found that the Executive Engineer (EE), Kalahandi Minor Irrigation Division, Bhawanipatna, had taken possession of the said land illegally and utilised it for construction of canals without providing compensation to the owners.
“The EE of the Department of Water Resources (DoWR) had filed (during October 2009 to August 2012) requisitions with the Land Acquisition Officer (LAO), Kalahandi, for acquisition of 44.10 acre private land in five villages – Badpodaguda, Tujung, Ratanpur, Krupapadar and Kushurla, for construction of five minor irrigation projects,” the CAG said in its report.
“However, despite non-completion of LA proceedings in all the five cases and without paying any compensation to the land owners, the EE constructed canals on the land notified for acquisition in gross violation of the provisions of the Land Acquistion Act, which clearly states that possession of land can only be taken only after tendering at least 80 per cent of the compensation amount,” it added.
Furthermore, the EE had intimated (November 2018) the LAO to withdraw the LA proceedings since they had decided to purchase the said land directly from the land owners.
However, the withdrawal notice was not accepted due to procedural lapses. The CAG observed that while the LAO and EE continued to engage in sorting out procedural issues on a lapsed LA proceeding, the EE without resorting to direct purchase of land, constructed canals unauthorisedly on the land intended to be purchased directly.
It may be mentioned that villagers of Badapodaguda and Tujung had submitted (February 2016 and September 2018) representations to the District Collector, Kalahandi, for payment of compensation, alleging that they had been dispossessed of their land without payment of compensation.
However, no action has been taken on the grievances as of June 2019. Meanwhile, in response to the allegations, the Board of Revenue admitted (July 2020) of unauthorised possession of the private land by the Kalahandi MI Division and construction of canal without payment of compensation or consent of the land owners.
The CAG also mentioned that the matter has been reported (January 2021) to the Government of Odisha and a reply is awaited.
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