Blames government for handing over farm land to private companies

Issue to be raised in the Assembly

Party hopeful of regaining strength is Oram forms his team

BHUBANESWAR: In yet another attempt to take on the Naveen Patnaik Government to strengthen their party's base in the State, several senior leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party Orissa unit on Wednesday blamed the government for handing over vast patches of agricultural land to private companies that were setting up different industries.

At a press conference at the party's State headquarters here on Wednesday afternoon, party leaders Bijay Mohapatra, K.V. Singh Deo and Dharmendra Pradhan alleged that the government had started showing favours to several companies setting up power plants by allowing them to purchase agricultural land from the farmers directly for establishment of their thermal power units.

While claiming to be pro-farmer, the State government was actually out to protect the interests of the companies, they alleged.

The private land that was being handed over to the companies in various ways also came under areas having irrigation facility, they said.

The State government has no right to acquire agricultural land coming under irrigated zones while reservoirs that were built by obtaining huge loans from various international banks and financial institutions, the leaders charged.

They said that they would raise the issue in the State Assembly that was scheduled to be held from March 8 to 17.

In fact, the party that won just six of the total 147 Assembly constituencies and lost elections in all the 21 Lok Sabha seats in the simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly polls last year, has been struggling hard for the past several months by taking up various issues concerning the people.

Apart from demanding CBI inquiry into the mining scam time and again, the party leaders have also organised a series of rallies and public meetings on the issue of price rise and their opposition to the proposed Vedanta University near Puri.

The party, however, has not been able to regain its strength at the grassroots level as its organisational mechanism of the past had become dormant during the nine years period that the party remained in power as the lone allay of the Biju Janata Dal headed by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

Many leaders of the party, however, are hopeful that once Mr. Oram forms his new team they would be able to make the party ahead of the gram panchayat elections that were likely to be held in 2011.