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4,500 acres stretch temple land under unauthorized occupation in Odisha: CAG

The premiere audit agency test-checked the land records of 13 temples of the state and found the total landed property of 12,767.679 acres of these temples.

SNS | Bhubaneshwar |

Over 4,500 acres of landed properties owned by six temples in the State are under encroachment, according to the latest report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), tabled before the Assembly yesterday.

The premiere audit agency test-checked the land records of 13 temples of the state and found the total landed property of 12,767.679 acres of these temples.

However, only 5,749.464 acres (45.03 percent) were under the possession of management of six temples with the remaining 35.28 percent remaining under encroachment.

As many as 4,030.78 acres of land belonging to Debottar Dhenkanal is under encroachment. Similarly, 296.664 acres of Jagannath Ballav Math, 139.330 acres of Thakur Mahal, 36.370 acres of Sri Lingaraj Temple, 0.070 acres of Maa Mangala Temple, and 0.657 acres of Maa Samaleswari Temple are under encroachment, the CAG report detected.

However, audit scrutiny conducted on the records of seven temples did not find the temple land being illegally occupied.

“Further, the extent of encroachment of landed property was also not known in respect of three Religious Institutions (RIs). Therefore, 7,018.215 acres of land were not under the possession of the respective seven RIs. Thus, the RIs concerned were not aware of the status of more than half of their properties which were not under their possession,” it said.

Moreover, although the Sri Lingaraj Temple owns landed properties across the state, it was aware of possession and encroachment related to the city of Bhubaneswar only. Information on ownership and encroachment of land at other places was not known to the temple administration.

“Failure to trace and track properties owned by these RIs bears the risk of the ownership of property getting changed over a course of time or it becoming more difficult to recover the encroached land,” the CAG pointed out.