Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, May 28:
Two days ahead of a high-level meeting at Odisha Chief Minister’s Office to deliberate on the fate of the Ekamra Tower, several Gandhians and Sarvodaya leaders have upped the ante against the proposed multi-storey commercial complex on the premises of Odisha Khadi and Village Industries Board (OKVIB) here.
Notably, the state government had announced the shelving of the proposed complex during the last Assembly session after vehement protests from parties across the spectrum, socio-cultural organisation, Gandhians and Sarvodaya leaders among others.
Despite this, a high-level meeting of senior officials is scheduled on May 30 at Chief Minister’s Office to chalk out the strategy for the construction of the 25-storey commercial complex on Janpath in Kharavel Nagar area in the heart of the city, reliable sources said.
In 2013, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had laid the foundation stone for the proposed Ekamra Tower, which is to be built on 3.31 acres land of which 2.50 acres is owned by Khadi Board and the remaining land belongs to General Administration (GA) department.
Activists alleged that there was a conspiracy to usurp the land in question, situated in a prime locality of the city two decades ago. Corporate houses have cast their evil eyes again on this valuable patch of land, they said.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), in its report, had also raised objections on the construction of Ekamra Tower on the OKVIB land. In addition to this, it had said that it would be anti-khadi activity to shift the OKVIB for the construction of a commercial complex.
Interestingly, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had laid the foundation stone for establishment of Gramodyog Bhawan on October 30, 2003 at the same site.
Reminding the state government of its announcement in the Assembly and the CAG report, former MP and chairman of freedom fighters’ association Bhabani Charan Patnaik, Chairman of Utkal Gandhi Smarak Nidhi Prahallad Kumar Sinha, Sarvodaya Editor Dr Biswajit Ray, Ramakant Mandal, Secretary, Utkal Sarvodaya Mandal, veteran social activist Prof Radhamohan, Jagadananda, Madhusudan Das, Secretary of the Vinoba Bhave Seva Pratisthan, Odisha, Manoj Jena, Odisha Durniti Sangharsha Mancha Secretary Sudhir Mohanty among others drew the attention of the chief minister and urged him not to give approval for construction of Ekamra Tower on the OKVIC land.
While the proposed Gramodyog Bhawan will be buried under the files, the coming up of the concrete high-rise would destroy valuable and old trees in the premises of the OKVIB.
The headquarters of the Odisha Khadi and Village Industries Board was set up in 1956 and stands on 35, 000 sq ft of space. Besides, it houses an air-conditioned retail outlet of the Board, khadi training centre, an auditorium, honey processing unit, warehouse, post-office, and a Bank besides a Gandhi temple in the premises.
Annual fairs are also organised in the premises by the people associated with khadi and cottage industries across the state.