The leasing of a patch of prime land meant for development of a railway station of international standards in the city to Reliance Retail, a part of the Mukesh Ambani controlled Reliance Industries Ltd, kicked up a storm in the state assembly with the Opposition demanding scrapping of the land deal.
Raising questions over the merit of the deal with Reliance Retail and the circumstances under which it was executed, Congress MLA Naba Kishore Das called for the formation of a house committee to probe the sanctity of the pact with the retailer.
Voicing his opposition to the leasing of 2.279 acres of land under Orissa State Road Transport Corporation (OSRTC) to Reliance Retail during discussion on an adjournment motion, Das accused the state government of showing undue favour to the company.
“This government has entered into a tacit pact with Reliance Retail for handing over the land to the company. The government is hand in glove with the company and is not bothered about the interests of the state or its people,” he added.
Stating that the world class station could have turned the face of the state, he dared the state government to share the details on the land deal with the retailer.
“This government claims no communication was received from the Railway Board on development of the proposed world class railway station. But the fact remains that the design of the station was ready. Even the then Chief Secretary in July 2008 had suggested that the government needs to wait for communication from the Railway Board. However, this state government overruled the suggestion of its own officials and went ahead to sign the deal with Reliance Retail,” the Congress legislator said.
Surendra Pramanik, another Congress MLA said, “The capacity of the existing railway station has to be upgraded given the growing traffic requirement. But the state government has leased out land meant for development of a world class station to Reliance Retail. It only shows that this government is keen on promoting the interests of the company.”
Responding on behalf of commerce and transport minister Sanjeev Sahoo, his Cabinet colleague S N Patra said, “Railway Board had requested the state government to allot 100 acres of land free of cost for the development of the world class railway station in Bhubaneswar. At a meeting held under the chairmanship of the Commissioner (Rail coordination), East Coast Railway (ECoR) was asked to acquire 78.90 acres of government land and 15.086 acres of private land. The state government had also sought a detailed project report for the world class station. But the state government is not yet to receive the same nor has the Ministry of Railways made an allocation for the proposed station in the Railway Budget.”
“Within the land identified for development of the railway station, a small patch of 2.279 acres of land was under OSRTC. This land was offered to Reliance Retail on December 2, 2009 for a period of 33 years through a tripartite agreement signed between the state government, OSRTC and the company. The land was allotted on the condition that if in the future, ECoR needs this land parcel for the world class station, Reliance Retail will be asked to return the piece of land and an equal quantum of land would be offered to the company elsewhere,” he added.