**Bhubaneswar: ** Odisha capital city-based Civil Society Forum has demanded for a judicial probe into the 100 acre land leased out to a Delhi-based Trust allegedly at throw away price for setting up an allegedly fake university in Cuttack district during the BJD-BJP coalition government in 2009.
RTI activist Pradip Pradhan, on behalf of the Civil Society Forum, claimed before media at a press conference convened on Saturday here that the lease deed was signed between the Government of Odisha and the Delhi-based Trust on 16.11.2009.
Elucidating on it, Pradhan said, “The Trust was registered in Delhi on September 25, 2007. Just after one month of its registration, it applied to the Odisha Government for land meant for setting up a university. Immediately, the Higher Education Department signed an MoU. Accordingly, process for identifying land started. Thus, it was decided that the land identified at Damapada area in Cuttack district will be given to it. The valuation made by the then Tehsildar was Rs 11.20 lakh per acre. RDC and Collector also approved it. When it came to the State Government level, the then Chief Secretary said that the organisation would be given land at Rs 1 lakh per acre.”
“Instead of gaining Rs 11.20 crore revenue by the State exchequer, the State Goverment allotted land to the organisation for a measly Rs 1 crore following which our State lost revenue to a tune of Rs 10 crore,” the RTI activist stated.
He also alleged, “The vital question is that whether this organisation was able to set up such a university and had a bona fide permission from the UGC (University Grant Commission) or not has been bypassed by the State Government machinery.”
“Hence, we suspect that the whole matter has been materialised in a fraudulent means and 100 acres of precious government land has been given. We demand a judicial probe into it,” he stressed.
On the contrary, former Higher Education Minister Samir Dey (during BJD-BJP alliance government in Odisha) in his reactions said, “I was not only the Higher Education Minister, but also Grievance Minister. I used to sit at the Grievance Cell with the Chief Minister. Definitely it would be having the Chief Minister’s direction. But, I’m sure it is not in my time. Yes, during my tenure land has been given to Ravi Shankar University being approved by the Cabinet. I don’t remember any other party having taken land during our stint. In 2009, I had even resigned before 5 months. The day CMC election was over, I had tendered my resignation then. After 5 months, our alliance broke up in 2009. Whoever applies for that purpose to the Higher Education Department, we forward it to the Revenue Department. Then the application goes to the Cabinet for its nod. The revenue amount is also passed in the Cabinet. I reiterate that it was not in my time. It can be better enquired.”
The then Revenue Minister (BJP) Manmohan Samal’s reactions could not be availed by OMMCOM NEWS despite concerted efforts as his cell phone remained switched off till the filing of this story.