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HindustanTimes Wed,01 Oct 2014

Odisha minister probing land grab in a spot
Priya Ranjan Sahu, Hindustan Times
Bhubaneswar, August 27, 2014
First Published: 16:29 IST(27/8/2014)
Last Updated: 16:54 IST(27/8/2014)

An Odisha minister probing alleged land grab of about 100 acres has landed in a controversy following a discovery that he lives in a house built on a plot allotted to his doctor wife for a hospital. 

Bijayshree Routray, the state revenue and disaster management minister, dismissed charges of wrongdoing after conversion of the plot for residential use came to light. 

"She (his wife) ran a nursing home for several years and during that time we built a residential accommodation and moved in. Six years ago, she closed down the nursing home, which was more a charitable institution, as it was not sustainable," the leader of the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) told journalists on Tuesday.

Routray, who is probing the alleged land grab of about 100 acres on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar by some party colleagues and bureaucrats, added that he had not done anything illegal, as he had no other government plot in the capital.

The general administration department had allotted the plot in Kharavel Nagar, an affluent locality in Bhubaneswar, to Routray's wife Jyoti Routray in 1987 against a payment of Rs. 61,984 for opening a hospital.

The alleged misutilisation of government land came to light after the health department, in July, sought details of free treatment to below poverty line (BPL) patients - in compliance with a Supreme Court order - from 44 hospitals that had been allotted government land.

Only 21 hospitals responded. When the health department screened hospitals that had not responded, Routray's residential address cropped up.

After the mining and chit fund scams, alleged housing and land scandals have put chief minister Naveen Patnaik's government in a fix.

The housing scam came to light after the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) said in a report that BJD Rajya Sabha member Kalpataru Das illegally got more than one house from the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) under the 'discretionary quota'.

A public outcry made Das surrender two of the four houses in his family possession.

The state government has set up a task force to probe the alleged irregularities in allotment of houses and land to politicians, bureaucrats, corporate and mining magnates.


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