CAG Report on Land Acquisition: Naveen Patnaik’s anti-people administration stripped layer by layer

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

“Emergency provision was arbitrarily applied, contrary to the provisions of Land Acquisition Act and the land owners were deprived of the rights to contest the land acquisition and protect their property due to inappropriate application of emergency provision,” points out the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its performance report on ‘Acquisition and allotment of land for industrial purpose by IDCO for the period of 2001-12’, released on June 23.

CAG has stripped Naveen Patnaik’s anti-people administration layer by layer.

The LA Act has given people certain safeguards to people to protect their landed properties by objecting to acquisition. The same is rendered inconsequential by use of ‘emergency’ clause. The mandarins managing administration are so mismanaged by Naveen Patnaik that officers having no jurisdiction to approve land allocation to private industries have done it in blatant contravention of legal stipulations. As for example, it is stipulated that in cases of emergency, IDCO recommendation for allocation of land to private companies may be approved by officers of Deputy Secretary and above rank. But CAG has found allocation of as much as 2845.38 acres of land recommended for only 10 companies approved by lower rank officials, having no jurisdiction at all, like the Under Secretary.

Ever since Naveen Patnaik has started functioning as Chief Minister, many cultivators have been denuded of their land under the design of ‘public purpose’. It seems, the public sector IDCO is acting a comprador for private industries.

The Naveen Patnaik government is forcing people to part with their landed property for ‘public purpose’, but in reality the lands are acquired for private purpose of private companies by using their money for acquisition.

The CAG has noted, “Land for these industries should have been acquired under Part VII of LA Act, but was acquired under ‘public purpose’ to by-pass the legal provisions and procedures prescribed under Part VII of the LA Act sand LA (Companies) Rule 1963”.

Lands are allotted to private companies according to their preference at locations they decide, without care for how it would affect agriculture, irrigation and environment. Even the Revenue and Disaster Management Department (RDMD) has been used as an instrument in service of the private companies. It has approved acquisition of 14,296.56 acres of land for 33 non-government industries during the period from 2002 to 2012 under ‘public purpose’ clause. But, according to the CAG, “the circumstances did not permit the land to be acquired under ‘public purpose’ design”.

The RDMD had tried to justify its action under the cover of Section 31 (1) of OIIDC Act 1980. The CAG has rejected this mischief. “The reply is not acceptable since IDCO was acquiring land for private promoters and the entire cost of acquisition was borne by the promoters concerned” the CAG has observed while pointing out how the ‘public purpose’ clause has been misused to by-pass the law that provides for safeguarding the interest of land owners from the pernicious grip of private industries.

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