BHUBANESWAR: Odisha Government on Tuesday directed Collectors of 13 districts to initiate immediate measures for mutation of over 7,112 acre of defence land in favour of Ministry of Defence (MoD). Principal Secretary of Revenue and Disaster Management Bishnupada Sethi asked Collectors of Koraput, Nabarangpur, Ganjam, Khurda, Mayurbhanj, Sambalpur, Angul, Puri, Sundargarh, Balasore, Jharsuguda, Cuttack and Balangir to instruct respective tehsildars for the mutation of defence land at the earliest.
As per the records, 18,015.717 acre of land in Odisha is owned by the MoD. Of this, an area measuring about 7,112.377 acre is yet to be mutated in the civil revenue records. Even as the non-mutation of land in revenue records in the name of MoD has been taken up by the Defence Estate Officers (DEOs) with the State Government earlier, the issue remains unresolved.
The direction came in the wake of concerns raised by Union Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar in a recent letter to Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy. Maximum 2,599.318 acre of land in Ganjam, 1,712.58 acre in Jharsuguda and 1,336.045 acre in Balasore were to be mutated.
“Defence lands are susceptible to encroachment as these are spread over large areas. The risk of encroachment or diversion of land increases if the land is not mutated. Encroachers or unauthorised occupants often challenge the ownership/title of the Government in courts if the land is not mutated and it becomes difficult for the DEOs to prove title of land,” he stated in the letter.
The MoD is involved in a large number of legal cases at a considerable public expense due to delay in mutation. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and the Central Public Accounts Committee in their reports had also commented adversely in this regard.
Meanwhile, the Defence Estates Organisation is undertaking a survey of all defence land in order to have a physical reconciliation of defence land. The Phase II of the survey will be held in association with the district revenue authorities to ensure its reconciliation with defence land records. The joint survey of land will also clearly bring out the encroachments on defence land and facilitate the resolution of the specific issues related to non-mutation of defence land in the revenue records of the State Government.