Odisha Admin takes Possession of Cuttack Barabati Palace

Cuttack, Dec 01: The district administration of Cuttack has taken the possession of Barabati palace acting on the directive of the Orissa High Court. Cuttack Sadar tehsildar on Sunday has acquired the marriage mandap adjacent to the iconic Barabati Stadium, and nearly a a dozen shops on a piece of 800 decimals of land.

After taking the control of Barabati palace, the tehsildar pronounced that the business on the property would be directly dealt by the district administration as per the High Court order.

"As per the direction of the honourable High Court, we have taken control of Barabati Palace and other commercial establishments being run on the encroached land. We have asked the Odisha Olympic Association (OOA) to deposit the money they have taken by way of advance towards bookings of the mandap. From now on, anyone who wants to book the premises or rent the shops will have to deposit the money with us," Cuttack Sadar tehsildar Abanikanta Patnaik said after taking possession of the premises.

However, the tehsildar made it clear that none of the commercial establishments being run on the encroached land, including Barabati Palace, would be shut down. They would continue to function. The only change is that people booking the mandap and those running commercial establishments on it will now have to make the payments to the district administration instead of the OOA.

High Court on Saturday had asked Cuttack district administration to take over Barabati palace and shops in encroached areas while ordering a Crime Branch probe into the activities of Odisha Olympic Association.

The bench comprising Justice BP Ray directed the Cuttack Collector to take over possession of the property of the Association including the marriage mandap. The Collector shall maintain the same properly and keep accounts by opening an account in a bank. The HC also directed audit of the association's accounts.

Odisha Olympic Association (OOA), which had got 20 acres of government land on lease basis for construction of Barabati Stadium way back in 1949, subsequently encroached upon two acres of vacant government land adjacent to it in the mid-1970s.

After Asirbad Behera became OOA secretary in 1986, he sub-leased the encroached land and developed various business establishments on it.

Challenging the encroachment, the state government in 2000 filed an eviction case. But Behera contested it in a civil court and managed to get a judgement in his favour. The state government then moved the High Court against the judgment of the lower court in 2001.