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Idco sold forest land at throwaway price: CAG

In November 2011, JITPL had applied for diversion of forest land for construction of approach road to its thermal plant at Kaniha to the State government.

Published: 08th April 2021 06:40 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th April 2021 09:33 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) pulled up the State-run Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Idco) and Angul district administration for leasing out government land to unauthorised occupants at throwaway price without approval of the competent authority.In the instant case, Jindal India Thermal Power Ltd (JITPL) which was in unauthorised occupation of government land since 2013 in Kaniha tehsil of Angul district was handed over 12 acre of forest land for industrial use at a concession rate of Rs 72.95 lakh against the market value of Rs 3.03 crore.

In November 2011, JITPL had applied for diversion of forest land for construction of approach road to its thermal plant at Kaniha to the State government. On the recommendations of the Forest and Environment department, the Ministry of Environment and Forest approved the diversion proposal in September 2014.
After Central approval, Idco had applied for lease of 12 acre of government land to Kaniha tehsildar for industrial use by JITPL. The district collector had granted lease of 12 acre of government land in favour of Idco for subsequent transfer to JITPL at a concessional rate of Rs 72.95 lakh. 

Since the land in question was under unauthorised occupation of JITPL, the principle devised by Revenue and Disaster Management (R&DM) department in November 2010 for fixation of premium, interest and penalty should be applied during transfer of the land.The Kaniha tehsildar had filed three encroachment cases against JITPL in 2015 on the basis of reports of the revenue inspector of the tehsil that company was in unauthorised occupation of government land since 2013. On inspection of the site, the tehsildar found that JITPL had constructed roads connecting to its plant on these patches of land. 

“The tehsildar had imposed a penalty of Rs 75,000 on JITPL which was realised in November 2015. Since it was proved that the JITPL was in unauthorised occupation of land, premium at concessional rate was not applicable for the land acquired for ultimate transfer to it as per the principle devised by the R&DM department,” the CAG report said.While ignoring the report of the tehsildar, Angul collector calculated the land premium at concessional rate. In such cases, the R&DM department is the competent authority to approve the lease, but the collector did not think it fit to take the approval of the government.

Audit calculated the land premium at market value prevailing on the date of sanction of lease (December 2015) at Rs 3.03 crore. “There was undercharging of land premium by Rs 2.3 crore (land premium realised at concessional rate of Rs 72.95 lakh) which amounted to extension of undue benefit to JIPTL,” the report said.

Timeline

2011: JITPL applied for diversion of forest land for its plant
2013: JITPL illegally occupied 12 acre govt land
2014: MoEF approved diversion proposal 
Nov 2015: Kaniha tehsildar filed three encroachment cases against JITPL 
Dec 2015: Angul collector sanctioned the lease 



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