Forest land grab: Odisha govt serves notice on Kalki Baba

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Konark, Sep 1:

The district administration officials late on Monday afternoon began investigation into the land grab allegations against self-styled godman Kalki Baba alias Banambar Maharana for encroaching upon forest and revenue land in Darshanibanta area of Kurujanga panchayat under Konark police station limits in Odisha’s Puri district.

OST photo
OST photo

As per the instructions of Revenue Divisional Commissioner, Central Division, the officials of forest and revenue departments along with police personnel began a joint survey yesterday.

The controversial Baba was served notice to vacate the encroached land within four days failing which the district administration would go ahead with demolition process, sources in the know said.

The revenue and forest officials handed over a notice to the founder of the ashram Banambar Baba alias Kalki Baba, Ramesh Khatoi, Dwarikanath Jena and Mayadhar Ray to clear the land of encroachment within four days. Otherwise, the district administration would initiate steps to demolish the structures on encroached land.

“We have served notice on the Baba under section 34 (a) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and asked him to take away all his belongings from the encroached forest land by September 4, failing which we will take the follow-up action from the next day and evict him from the place”, Konark Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Prashant Kumar Swain informed the media today.

When contacted, Kalki Baba said: “I don’t have any objection to the government taking over its land. I had constructed the buildings to run a hospital in the good of the people. I urge the government not to demolish the structures and set up a hospital here.”

It may be mentioned that it is illegal to construct any concrete structure in the Balukhanda wildlife sanctuary under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.  In view of this, no construction would be allowed to remain in this area, forest officials said.

The buildings, garage, temple and other constructions have reportedly come up on forest land. The surveyors have found that the ashram has encroached 19.60 acre forest land and 31 decimal of revenue land.

The officials of the ashram produced land documents before the district administration officials. They verified the documents of the ashram which has allegedly come up on forest land. However, the officials refused to divulge much detail about the land records.

Earlier, the Baba had admitted to grabbing about 10 acres of forest land the value of which is estimated grossly around Rs 1 crore. The Forest department had registered seven cases against Kalki Baba for illegal possession of forest land between 2009-10 and 2014-15.

Assistant Chief Forest Officer Bijay Kumar Patnaik, Konark DFO, DSP District Intelligence Bureau Umakanta Mallik, Nimapara SDPO Arun Kumar Jena, Konark police station OIC Sasmita Behera, Gop police station IIC Srinivas Mohanty, Ramchandi police station IIC Debasish Mishra, ASI Prakash Mohanty, Prakash Mallick, Kaliash Chandra Sahu, Kakatpur Tehsildar Prachi Mohapatra, Additional Tehsildar Akshay Kumar Patnaik, local Revenue Inspector Laxmikanta Patra along with one platoon police force reached the site yesterday afternoon.

In the presence of district administration officials, the measurement of the disputed land was carried out.

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