The move to build a transit house for Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers in Odisha on land belonging to a government high school in Bhubaneswar has made the school’s alumni and parents urge chief minister Naveen Patnaik to intervene, said people aware of the matter.
Odisha’s general administration department has moved files for allotment of 1.5 acre land out of the 2.458 acre plot belonging to Unit 6 Government Boys High School in Bhubaneswar for construction of IAS officer transit house on the ground that it was “unutilised”. The 1.5 acre of land identified for IAS officers association is located in two different but contiguous plots allotted to the school several decades ago as homestead land in revenue records.
Odisha Abhibhabak Mahasangh, a leading parents’ body and the alumni association of Unit 6 Boys High School has written to CM Naveen Patnaik, alleging the allotment of the school land to a private body like the IAS officers’ association was not just arbitrary, but smacked of high-handedness.
“… The school land is reserved for a playground. Such attempts to convert school land for a transit house for a private body like [the] IAS Officers Association is not just illegal, but defeats the purpose of the Mo school Abhiyan started by the government,” said Basudev Bhatt of Odisha Abhibhavak Mahasangha.
Girija Shankar Das, an alumni of the school alleged the bid to take away school’s plot has been afoot since January this year when Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) erected a wall on the land.
“We were given to understand that the Capital Hospital would have some facility there. So we filed a case against the BDA in the court… in January this year and obtained a stay order. However, we were dismayed after learning that the land is being eyed for an IAS officer’s transit house,” said Das.
Das said in a recent meeting, the school’s alumni association had collected over ₹25 lakh for constructing a volleyball court, badminton court and a basketball court in the school playground under Mo School Abhiyan, started by the state government.
Among the school’s alumni are former IPS officer and the current chairman of Odisha Public Service Commission Satyajit Mohanty, principal of SCB Medical College Datteswar Hota, senior BJD leader Sanjay Dasburma and leading realtor Tapan Mohanty.
“While on the one hand the state government is pushing for improvement of school infrastructure, on the other, it is going ahead with such a plan to allocate land out of a school. It is very unfortunate that the state government is doing this to a school that is also included in the smart school programme,” Das said.
An IAS officer said the transit house was totally unnecessary as the existing Special Circuit House and the State Guest House were sufficient to house any bureaucrat who was transferred to Bhubaneswar. “Instead of setting examples in the time of the pandemic, it’s despicable that we are taking land from a school for building a transit house. The association is a private body and can easily buy private land from its own money. Why should the state government allocate land to it that actually belongs to a school,” the officer asked, refusing to be named.
GA department secretary Sanjeev Chopra did not respond to the allegations. When asked for a comment, secretary of Odisha IAS Officers Association, Vishal Dev, said: “The land is not yet allotted. So, where is the question of using 1.5 acres of land?”