District Agriculture Officers concerned were not consulted before the land acquisition process was initiated

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India have said that the Odisha government had not consulted the District Agriculture Officers concerned before acquiring agricultural land for industries.

In its report for the year ended March 2013 that was tabled in the Odisha Assembly on Monday, the CAG pointed out that in all cases of acquisition of agricultural land for non-government companies, Land Acquisition (Companies) Rule, 1963 required consultation with the District Agriculture Officer.

“The Audit noticed that in case of acquisition of 29769.482 acre private land for 37 MoU (memorandum of understanding) based and 54 non-MoU based industries, the District Agriculture Officers concerned were not consulted before the land acquisition process was initiated, though required,” the CAG report on public sector undertaking said.

“Scrutiny of 47 land acquisition cases in four sampled districts revealed that out of 4210.419 acre land acquired, 3816.223 acre (91per cent), land acquired was agricultural land.”

The Revenue and Disaster Management Department of the State government in their reply in July 2013 had said that they had instructed all District Collectors in June 2013 to obtain clearance from Agriculture Department where irrigated cultivatable land is proposed to be acquired for industries, the report noted.

Stating that in case any private land was to be acquired, all efforts were to be made to avoid acquisition of double cropped irrigated land, the CAG said that the audit revealed that acquisition of 2000.695 acre irrigated land lying in command area of three irrigation projects resulted in loss of 2304.84 acre of irrigation potential.

There was significant loss of irrigation potential due to acquisition of irrigated land situated in the ayacut of the three irrigation projects of GMR Energy Limited in Rengali Irrigation Project, KVK Nilachal Power Private Limited and Tata Power Company Limited, according to the report.

“Audit also noticed that while acquiring land for GMR Energy Limited in Rengali Irrigation Project, the Chief Engineer concerned viewed that diversion of irrigated land for industrial purpose would not be in the interest of the State.

This was, however, disregarded by Water Resources Department, who agreed for such acquisition in all these cases subject to payment of cost of installation of lift irrigation projects (LIPs) for creation of equal irrigation potential.