Good News for Orissa: Land Acquisition for Vedanta University Nullified

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Land grabber Anil Agrawal and his agents in Orissa administration as well as his lobbyists from amongst the non-resident Oriyas may coin their conspiracy afresh to grab the Puri-Konark Marine Drive land, but the people of Orissa, whose wrath against Chief Minister Navin Patnaik and his corrupt government for the crime committed against our soil for benefit of Agrawal – echoed in several Public Interest Litigation before the High Court – have every reason to celebrate the day as a day of victory; because, the High Court of Orissa has quashed the entire process of acquisition and directed that land already acquired must be restored to owners thereof , in a judgment delivered today.

Today’s verdict covers the PIL filed by former MLA Uma Ballav Rath and also the one filed by Gopabandhu Daridranarayan Trust as well as a few others. A division bench comprising Chief Justice V. Gopal Gowda and Justice BP Das has found as many as 17 illegalities in acquisition of land for the so-called Vedanta University.

Earlier, the Lokpal of Orissa had also located many illegalities in land acquisition for Vadanta and required the State to submit its action-taken report on his recommendations within three months. The State government did neither place the Lokpal report before the Assembly as required by Law nor filed its ATR as required by the Lokpal.

Action Required

The volumes of illegalities resorted to by Navin Patnaik government in order to serve the interest of Anil Agrawal is now legally discernible. But nullification of the nefarious land acquisition is not enough. Punishment for the traitors is required. Naveen Patnaik, the Chief Minister and both Subas Pani and Ajit Tripathy as Chief Secretaries are obviously responsible for the illegal favors shown to the dubious land grabber.

It is Ajit Tripathy, who, despite objection from the Law department, had issued orders for acquisition of the land for the commercial hub of Agrawal styled Vedanta University. After superannuation, he has been awarded with the coveted post of State Election Commissioner.

Whether or not his role in ordering for land acquisition for Vedanta University is a factor behind his post-retirement appointment needs also to be judicially determined.

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