Paving way to delegate powers to the Puri temple administration and officials for the sale and lease of land, the Odisha Assembly Wednesday passed The Shri Jagannath Temple (Amendment) Bill, 2022.
Moving the Bill, state Law Minister Pratap Jena said, “The main purpose of the Bill is to amend Section 16(2) of the Shri Jagannath Temple Act, 1954, which prescribes the delegation of power to grant sanction to sell or lease lands belonging to the Lord Sri Jagannath Temple Managing Committee.” The Bill was passed unanimously through a voice vote.
In January this year, the Odisha state cabinet had approved the amendments which simplify issues pertaining to land owned by the Jagannath Temple. Following the amendment, the temple administration and officials now have the power to sell or lease out temple land without any approval from the state government.
Earlier, people who had occupied or were in possession of the temple land for a long period of time had to approach the state government for sale or transfer of the land. The temple managing committee, administrative officials and collectors of the respective districts can take decisions in this regard from now onwards.
After the state cabinet had passed the amendment, Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mohapatra had said, “After the uniform policy came into effect in 2003, a lot of people occupying these lands and living there for generations had approached the state government for sale or transfer of the land in their names. But the process was rather tedious and time taking since every case from across districts would come to the state government for approval.”
He had added, “In many cases it took over two-four years for the state government to clear the files and thousands of applicants faced difficulties. But as per the amendment, the process will be decentralised and decisions will be taken at various levels.”
Around 60,426 acre of land in the name of Lord Jagannath has been identified in 24 districts across the state. Over 395 acre of land has been identified in West Bengal, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Bihar.as well. These lands are either occupied or are in possession of various persons for over five decades or more. After the identification of the land belonging to the temple, a uniform policy was brought into effect which facilitated settlement of land to eligible persons. From 2001 to 2010, a total of 291 acre of land was settled and from 2011 to 2021, a total of 96 acre of land was settled.