Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
I will begin with this picture of demolition of an unauthorized enclosure.
This enclosure belonged to a martial art school in Unit 6 of Bhubaneswar that the Government has demolished a few days ago.
A private builder is negotiating to take it to his possession for construction of apartments in partnership with Bhubaneswar Development Authority/Housing Board.
Even as it is open secret that in all such partnerships with private builders, greasing of palms of concerned authorities is a motivating component, retrieval of government lands from encroachments is most welcome.
But is the Government sincere in demolition of encroachments?
In the immediate neighborhood of the Karate school, in the heart of Unit 6, there is a big cowshed on encroached government land that has become a serious threat to health of the people. It stands on the main road junction of Unit 6.
This is the picture of the cowshed. If the martial art school that has been catering to good health of the people is demolished, why this cowshed adjacent to the Karate school and standing on the main road junction through which the official demolisher reached to raze down the enclosure did not demolish the cowshed, even though it causes serious health problems in the area?
After three of policemen succumbed to brain malaria during their security duty in course of a session of the State Assembly and after insurmountable outcry over unbearable mosquito menace that legislators of both the sides attributed to spread of cowsheds on government lands in every nook and corner of the capital city, the House authored a new law for the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation that put a blatant ban on keeping of cows and buffaloes and goats and sheep and any such animal in the City and its buffer zone to ensure healthy living environment to the people. The milkmen through their association challenged the validity of the ban on their profession in the high Court of Orissa where they also demanded that if they were to be evicted from government lands in the heart of the City, then they must be provided with alternative government lands in plots that would suit their profession. The high Court rejected their petition. They preferred a civil appeal in the Supreme Court of India. That was rejected with the Court adding more strength to the Law.
The appeal of the milkmen was based on two pleas.
One was: the present Chief Minister’s father, when in Office, had promised to rehabilitate the milkmen by giving them lands to run their business in milk; and, therefore, eviction sought without offer of alternative plot was not proper.
Against this plea, The Court held that even if a former chief minister had made a promise to rehabilitate the milkmen, there was no legal shape given to that promise by way of policy decision. And, after enactment of a law prohibiting cow keeping, the former CM’s alleged promise, even if termed an executive action, shall be of no applicability. “An executive action on the part of the State must give way to the statutory scheme. As by reason of the Orissa Municipal Corporation Act, within the periphery of the town, dairies or cowsheds cannot be maintained, the State would not be entitled to adhere to its earlier plan of rehabilitating them in the villages mentioned therein” the Supreme Court mandated.
The other was: they were ready to pay for the plot.
The Supreme Court also rejected this plea. It held, “only because they are agreeable to pay for the plot which may be allotted to them, that by itself would not clothe them with the legal right to be rehabilitated. There does not exist any legal concept which confers a legal right upon an encroacher to be rehabilitated”. Thus saying, it made it clear that “the doctrine of Promissory Estoppel will have no application” to the milkmen.
In holding the ban on dairies or cowsheds perfectly justified and absolutely necessary, the Supreme Court has said that in civic society, “Town Planning indisputably plays an important role. Unauthorised occupation by the encroachers in the areas which are meant for planned development goes a long way in thwarting the goals sought to be achieved by such town planning”.
After, thus, the milkmen lost their case in the Supreme Court, it was incumbent upon the State Government and Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation and Bhubaneswar Development Authority to evict the milkmen from their encroachments in most important nerve centers of the city.
But even though the Supreme Court delivered its judgment on February 02, 2006, and seven years have lapsed, the unauthorized and illegal dairies or cowsheds are running in the city with the help of the authorities.
We have confidential information that there are 4000 dairies or cowsheds fully functional on encroached government plots in the city of Bhubaneswar from whom concerned officials collect Rs.4000/- each through agents of the racket every month. So, probably it is a monthly scam of Rs. 1.60 crores. We had depicted the issue in these pages and confronted the Chief Secretary through mails. But, there is no answer to that mail and no clarification on why the Municipal Corporation Act 2003 aimed at freeing the city of the filth and stench the illegal dairies or cowsheds are causing is not being implemented despite the illegal operators having lost their case in the High court and appeal in the Supreme Court.
The milkmen are spreading their filth even beyond the area they have encroached.
This is causing serious health problem, particularly bronchial and mosquito generated ailments in the areas infested with dairies or cowsheds.
In these pages we have raised the issue several times; samples of which may be read at:
We place this issue with pictures with the specific purpose that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik may look at it as a mirror to see the real reflection of the filth his administration is giving the people.
Whether or not he corrects himself depends upon him.