Two top bureaucrats served notices in land scam

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Oct 10:

One of Odisha’s senior most bureaucrats, Taradatt, the man known for bringing in several reforms in the Revenue department, is trapped in a scam in the same department. He has been served notice in the case by the court of Member of Board of Revenue, though there is no clear evidence of his direct involvement in it as of now.

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Not only Taradatt, another senior IAS officer of Odisha cadre S.N. Tripathy, now on Central deputation, has been also served with similar notice by the same court in the case. They have been charged with purchase of disputed government land and construction of houses on it. Further, the court has directed the Crime Branch for an inquiry into the land scam.

The investigating agency has also been asked to probe the role of the then Bhubaneswar Tehsildar and Commissioner Consolidation in the scam. At the same time, the court has order to maintain status quo on the disputed land.

The case involves about 4.5 acre of government land in Chandrasekharpur Mouja in the city. The court of Board of Revenue member Ashok Tripathy has served notices to 53 persons including the two senior IAS officers. The court has asked all the parties to reply back to its notice within a month.

While Taradatt is currently posted as the Director-General of Gopabandhu Academy, Tripathy is posted as the Additional Secretary in Union Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) Department. Several other influential persons are also said to be involved in the scam though their names have not been made public, said sources.

According to sources, Ucchab Sahu had managed to record the title of this piece of valuable land in his name in 1962 through manipulation. The then Tehsildar and other officials had allegedly extended an extra helping hand to Sahu in the act.

The said land which was under the General Administration Department (GAD) was listed under the ‘kissam’ (category) as ‘jhadi jungle’ (roughly meaning forest land). Later, Sahu sold the 4.5 acre of land in parts to 53 persons at different points of time.

After it came to GAD’s notice, a petition was filed in the court of the Member of Board of Revenue to bring back the land into the records of the government. Admitting the petition, Tripathy has served notices to all sellers and buyers of the land. Standing counsel Jagannath Rath is conducting the case from the government side.

Serving of notices to two senior IAS officers of the state has become the talking point in the administrative and political circles. Taradatt has been in the firing line of the state government for some time. Last month, he was removed from the post of KBK Chief Administrator while Tripathy was given additional charge of KBK.

However, reactions of Taradatt and Tripathy were not available despite many attempts.

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