BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, July 20: Large tracts of land owned by the Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) are lying unutilized across the State and is subject to encroachment. In the third day of the State budget session on Wednesday, there was a huge uproar in the House on this issue.
A section of members alleged that a portion of 5 bighas owned by ASTC near former chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s official residence at Koidhora is being used to construct an approach road covering an area of 2.5 kathas of the same land.
In his reply, State Transport minister Chandra Mohan Patowary admitted that the allegation levelled by the members is true. He said the State government would institute an enquiry to find how a part of this 5 bighas of land of ASTC once taken by the Assam Police for security reasons, was given over for the purpose of contructing an approach road towards a hotel in total violation of the law. The minister termed the entire process “mysterious”.
Patowary further said given the allegation, the hotel authorities must either pay a compensation for using ASTC land, or the State government will close down the approach road permanently.
The members vociferously raised the demand for an enquiry, saying that truth must be revealed as to how the land once used for security reasons by the police was allowed for building an approach road to a hotel. Patowary assured the members that he is taking the issue very seriously and action would be taken accordingly.
The State Transport minister said the government would take steps to make ASTC-owned land in many parts of the State free of encroachment, and thereafter use such land for building markets and parking lots. He also said, “272 buses owned by ASTC are now lying in dilapidated condition and it’s mysterious, but I am looking into it,” adding, “We will purchase 72 new buses to cover areas where ASTC buses are yet to be made available.”