Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 26:
Angry residents resisted the demolition of a Durga Puja pandal in Nayapalli in the Odisha capital and forced government agencies tasked with the demolition to withdraw from the scene yesterday.
Residents of Nayapalli and police almost came to a confrontation when a joint enforcement squad arrived at the spot to demolish the mandap as per the orders of the Odisha High Court. Sensing trouble, the authorities abandoned the plan to demolish the pandal and returned after demolishing six makeshift shops and an illegally built garage in the vicinity.
The joint enforcement squad comprising officials of the General Administration Department, Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA), Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) reached the spot at 11:30 AM in the morning along with three platoons of police force, one extra platoon of ladies cops and two bulldozers only to be greeted with vociferous protest by locals.
The residents of the Nayapalli, led by leaders of Durga Puja Committe, had begun assembling at the spot since morning. The crowd had swelled to more than 100 by 10 AM in the morning. Little later, eunuchs joined the protest.
While the locals and cops were engaged in arguments, the eunuchs climbed up the bulldozer to scare off the operators.
As per information provided by BDA, the plot in question measuring 0.841 acres was given to NABARD on October 12, 1993 to build its parking zone and garden. The Puja Committee, however, had encroached on the plot for a long time leading BDA to file a case against the committee.
The court had ordered the BDA to free the encroached land in a verdict on June 5, 1996.
The committee had also approached the BDA court, civil court and High Court to keep the land, but failed to get an order in its favour.
The Odisha High Court had ordered demolition on October 17, 2014. The General Administration Department, through a letter of its Additional Secretary of on November 18, 2014, had also asked to demolish the illegal construction and acquire the land back following which the eviction drive was started yesterday.
“There is a clear instruction from the High Court to make the land free from encroachment. But we were not able to complete the drive due to lack of force. However, the illegal construction will be demolished very soon,” said Deba Prasdad Dash, Enforcement Officer of BDA.