Vikash Sharma

 A major controversy has erupted ahead of the historic Bali Yatra with the local traders’ association opposing the move of the Cuttack district administration to auction plots for setting up of stalls.

The Bali Yatra Byabasai Milita Manch (Traders’ Association) has opposed the decision of the administration for the registration of plots and the move to auction the same. The association members alleged that the rate per sq ft of space for setting up stalls at Bali Yatra ground was Rs 25. However, the price has now been doubled to Rs 50, and it will be auctioned.

The association members fear that such commercialisation in the stall allotment process for Bali Yatra might lead to a rise in the prices of commodities during the fair.

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“The tradition of unity of Cuttack should not be disturbed for auction of plots. The administration should roll back its decision and allot plots as per the previous tradition,” demanded Manoranjan Sahu, convenor of Bali Yatra Byabasai Milita Manch.

“Earlier the traders were booking plots at Rs 10 per sqft and it was increased to Rs 28. Now, it has been increased to flat Rs 50 per sqft and we oppose the move to auction as it will lead to an unnecessary fight between traders,” said Sukant Mohanty, spokesperson of Bali Yatra Byabasai Milita Manch.

According to Mohanty, it seems that there is a conspiracy to stall Bali Yatra.

As per Cuttack Collector, Bhawani Shankar Chayani, "Earlier, people were sub-letting after getting allotments. Now, this year, traders can book plots for setting up plots at reasonable rates directly." "We want to eliminate the middlemen activities in the entire stall/ plot allotment process,” he claimed.

According to Chayani, the administration has started a registration process for the allotment of plots for the Bali Yatra. However, the administration will go for auction of the plots which traders will opt for during the registration process, he explained.

As per the plans, such plots will be allotted to the highest bidder. There will be no loss for any trader as efforts are underway to provide plots to all the interested traders, the Cuttack Collector assured.