The alleged attempt of the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) to facilitate construction of a transit house for Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers on a land belonging to a government high school in Bhubaneswar has snowballed into a major controversy with the school’s alumni and parents associations strongly opposing the move.
The alumni and parents’ associations of Unit 6 Government Boys High School in the heart of the city recently wrote to local MLA, MP and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik seeking immediate suspension of boundary wall construction by the BDA on about 1.5 acres of land of the school citing it is lying unutilised.
They have threatened to launch a massive protest and hit the streets if the issue is not resolved.
“Mahendra Nayak, Managing trustee of Unit 6 School Alumni Trust, said, “The BDA and IAS officers’ association are trying to grab the land citing it is unused. No school playground is used for 24 hours. The IAS officers can find land in any other area.”
“It is unfortunate that IAS officers’ association is eyeing school land. State guest house and circuit house are lying empty. They can use it as transit house but they are conspiring to grab the school land by citing it is unutilised. If they will not refrain from the move, they will face major consequence,” Basudev Bhatt, president of Odisha Parents’ Association, said.
According to sources, the BDA had started the construction of boundary on the school land in January this year which was then opposed by the alumni association. The association had also moved the court which had ordered a status quo on the construction activities on the land.
However, BDA allegedly violated the Bhubaneswar Civil Judge’s order and resumed construction by mentioning it as the unutilised land of Unit 6 Girl’s High School though it belongs to the Boy’s High School.
Sandhya Patnaik, president of Unit 6 Girl’s High School Alumni Association, said, “We had a joint meeting with alumni of Government Boys High School and parents association office bearers on the matter. We are hopeful that CM Naveen Patnaik will look into it.”
Meanwhile, questions are being raised as to why the BDA is showing so much interest to facilitate construction of the transit house on the school playground by citing it is unutilised.
Though there were no direct responses from the BDA vice-chairman Sanjay Kumar Singh in the matter, in a text message to OTV's correspondent he said, “I do not think it is still going on.”
Sahadev Sahu, a former bureaucrat also said being the protector of laws, it is not legitimate for IAS officers to take law into their own hands.
Vishal Dev, the secretary of the IAS officers’ association was also contacted over the issue, but his reaction could not be obtained.