Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Sep 20:
Odisha Government is in a fix as Biju Patnaik International Airport (BPIA) authorities have sought to acquire about sixty acres of land from Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) much to OUAT’s displeasure.
Acquisition of that patch of land is a must to develop infrastructure for the airport as it doesn’t have vacant land anywhere else to build on. On the other hand, the land bears equal importance for the university that conducts a lot of farming related research on it.
OUAT authorities are hell bent on not giving up an inch after having lost 110 acres to the airport in phases earlier.
“The Government has already given away over 100 acres of OUAT land to BPIA affecting its research programmes. We are able to conduct less amount of research because of lesser amount of land available with us. We have heard that the airport authorities have sought to acquire even more land. This is going to hamper our research work seriously. No other airport in the country lies in the middle of the city,” says Professor Manoranjan Kar, Vice Chancellor of OUAT.
Apart from their requirement for additional for expansion of infratsructural facilities, airport authorities cite another reason for taking over the land in question. They say farming on OUAT land is a major contributor to bird hits in the airport,
“The OUAT land is as responsible for bird hits in the airport as the meat shops around the airport. Hundreds of birds flock the area to feast on the seeds sown and crops grown on this land. The waste dumped near the airport premises also attracts many birds. These birds come in front of the aircrafts while landing leading to bird hits. It is important to consider the alternatives,” said Director of BPIA Sharad Kumar.
Reliable sources say the government has already made up its mind to hand over the land to the airoport authorities though it continues to maintain a charade holding a series of meetings presumably to find a way out of the problem. Having got wind of the government’s real intention, students of OUAT have threatened to take to the streets if it goes ahead with its move to hand over the land to the airport.
OUAT is also being backed by other scientists and researchers of the state.
“Established in 1962, the premier agri university has scripted many success stories. The university has 10 colleges, 30 agriculture research centers and 10 regional research centers under it. It plays an important part in facilitating farmers of the state with advanced seeds. However, the research is being affected since past five years after the government gave away about 110 acres of land to the airport. Taking away even more land from it would affect it further,” cautioned President of Agricultural Scientist’ Association Professor Laxminarayan Kar.
Though its sympathies are with the airport authorities, the Odisha government is wary of being seen as sacrificing the interests of a premier institution in the state and facing the wrath of the student community.