BHUBANESWAR: The Opposition Congress on Wednesday demanded a House Committee probe into transfer of government land meant for a world class railway station here to corporate giant Reliance. Expressing dissatisfaction over the State Government’s reply on the issue, Congress members staged a walkout.
It was raised in the Assembly through an Adjournment Motion notice by Congress which alleged a secret deal between the Government and the company for the prime land near the railway station here.
Participating in the discussion on its admissibility, Naba Kishore Das (Cong) said that a House Committee can unearth the truth behind the deal.
Alleging that the deal has raised questions on the transparency of the Government, Das said the Chief Minister approved the land transfer despite adverse notings in the file by several senior officials, including the Chief Secretary and Special Secretary in the General Administration Department.
Das’ demand received support from BJP-supported Independent member Pratap Sarangi who also sought cancellation of the deal and a panel to investigate the matter.
Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Surjya Narayan Patro said that the Government had handed over 2.279 acres owned by Odisha State Road Transport Corporation (OSRTC) to Reliance Retail Limited on a 33-year lease. “The land, meant for development of a proposed world class railway station here, was given according to an agreement,” Patro said.
There is a clause in the agreement that Reliance Retail Limited will have to return the land near the railway station if the East Coast Railway decided to go ahead with its proposed world class station work.
OSRTC’s 2.279 acre was among the 93.988 acres identified through a joint survey by the State Government and the Railways for setting up the railway station here, the Minister said. The Railways, however, were yet to submit its detailed project report (DPR), he said. The ECoR was also asked to acquire 78.902-acre government land and 15.086-acre private land identified for the purpose.
Justifying the State Government’s decision of leasing out the land, the Minister said Railways had not made any budgetary provision for the railway station though it was announced in 2008-09 budget.
“According to the agreement, the State Government will have to allot an equal amount of land to the company inside the city in the event of railways taking the land,” the Minister said.
Patro said the company had made a one-time down payment of Rs 8.93 crore and paid a monthly rent of Rs 6.70 lakh for the land.
Congress members Surendra Prasad Paramanik, Debi Prasanna Chand and Nihar Ranjan Mahanand demanded a high-level probe into the land transfer.