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Govt. breaks law, grabs private land for irrigation projects in Kalahandi: CAG

“Audit found (June 2019) that the land acquisition proceedings could not be completed within the stipulated two years and therefore no compensation had been paid to the land owners.

Statesman News Service | Bhubaneswar |

The Odisha Government perpetrated impropriety by unlawfully grabbing private land for construction of minor irrigation projects in the State’s Kalahandi district in gross violation of the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act and overt disregard to the property rights of the concerned landowners.

If the latest audit report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India is anything to go by, private land measuring 44.10 acres in at least five villages of Kokasara tehsil of the district were acquired without resorting to mandated land acquisition proceedings and even without payment of compensation to the landowners.

 The construction of canals amounted to gross violation of the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act and overt disregard to the property rights of the concerned landowners, the CAG report recently tabled before the Assembly pointed out.

The matter has been reported in January 2021) to the Government, but the reply in this regard is awaited, the General and Social Sector audit of CAG for the year ending in March 2020 noted.

The acquisition of private land is governed by the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. The administration of land resources in the State is the responsibility of the Revenue & Disaster Management (R&DM) Department.

As per Section 11-A of the Act, the award should be made within two years from the date of the publication of declaration in the official gazette or newspaper or serving in the locality, whichever is later, and if no award is made within that period, the entire proceeding for the acquisition of the land shall lapse. Physical possession of land can be taken only after tendering at least 80 percent of the compensation amount, as envisaged in Sub-section 3-A of Section 17 of the Act.

 The R & DM Department had issued declarations for the acquisition of 44.10-acre land between April 2014 and January 2015 under Section 6 (1) of the LA Act in Badpodaguda, Tujang, Ratnapura, Krupapadar, and Kushurla villages.

“Audit found (June 2019) that the land acquisition proceedings could not be completed within the stipulated two years and therefore no compensation had been paid to the landowners. The Executive Engineer of  Kalahandi Minor Irrigation Division, however, had irregularly taken possession of the said land and utilized it for construction of irrigation facilities”, the premiere audit squad found out.

Without payment of compensation to the landowners, the EE constructed canals on the land notified for acquisition in gross violation of the provisions of the LA Act and overt disregard to the property rights of the concerned landowners.

The Board of Revenue admitted the unauthorized possession of the private land by the Kalahandi MI Division without payment of compensation to the landowners, the CAG report concluded.