CUTTACK: Tension prevailed in Cuttack Sadar area on Friday with local villagers mobbing the Akshay Patra Foundation, which on Friday ventured to start construction work on its decentralised kitchen at Nayahat Mouza of Bamphakuda under Cuttack Sadar police limits.
With the locals fiercely opposing the construction work on the land which they deemed to be illegally converted and leased out in Foundation’s favour and the situation poised to turn violent, armed police rushed to the spot.
As many as 13 persons were arrested by the police while two platoons of armed forces were deployed in the region. Though no violence was reported, work had to be suspended on the site as situation continued to be tense in the villages.
Police said 13 persons were arrested for violating Section 144 imposed on the region where the work was set to begin.
According to sources, land to the tune of 1.44 acre under Nayahat Mouza has been leased out to the Foundation for constructing a kitchen and supplying cooked food under the midday meal programme to more than a lakh schoolchildren in Cuttack and adjoining districts.
The villagers alleged that the land was illegally leased out to the Foundation by the district administration. The land was of Gochar (cattle grazing) and Jalasaya (water body) type and was converted in violation of the existing laws.
They also alleged that the high value land was doled out at nominal prices to the Foundation.
However, the administration refuted the allegations stating that all formalities and laws were abided by while de-reserving the land and leasing out the land to the organisation for a greater social cause of providing food to schoolchildren. The work of Akshay Patra Foundation towards providing clean, hygienic food to lakhs of children across the country has gained respect throughout.
“The area under contention comes under urban body, where the characteristic of Gochar ceases to exist. The land had been de-reserved in accordance with law. The people of the area will, however, be sensitised on the issue and made to see the larger social cause vested in the process”, Sub-Collector J P Das said.