6-man Odisha AG team begins audit of OOA accounts

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Cuttack, Jan 28:

A six member team of the Accountant General’s office, led by a deputy accountant general (DAG) today began the audit of the accounts of Odisha Olympic Association (OOA) pertaining to Barabati Palace (Kalyan Mandap) and 23 shops built on government land adjacent to Barabati Stadium allegedly encroached by the sports body.

Revenue officials measuring the land on which Barabati Palace stands
Revenue officials measuring the land on which Barabati Palace stands

Last Thursday, the Supreme Court had ordered an audit of the sports body’s accounts pertaining to the disputed property.

The six-member team on reaching here first met Cuttack collector Nirmal Chandra Mishra and then Laxmidhar Mohanty, ADM Cuttack and held discussions with them before arriving at the OOA office.

The team met OOA general secretary Asirbad Behera and other officials of the OOA at the sports body’s premises and held discussions with them. The team handed over a letter to Behera and inspected the Barabati Palace and the 23 shops allegedly constructed on encroached government land.

“They came around quarter past three in the afternoon and handed me a letter. I told them that we will fully cooperate with them. Our accounts are fully audited on an annual basis. It’s all there in the books. They said they have to submit their report to the apex court within six weeks,” said Behera.

However, the team from the AG office remained tight lipped and refused to speak to the media.

For the second time in the last two months, the Cuttack district administration took charge of Barabati Palace (Kalyan Mandap) and the 23 shops last Saturday following Supreme Court orders issued on Thursday.

The apex court had ordered constitution of a committee comprising Cuttack collector and two ADMs of Cuttack district to take charge of the Kalyan Mandap (Barabati Palace) and 23 shops. The committee will function under the Revenue secretary of the state government, the court had directed.

The court has also ordered an audit of the OOA accounts pertaining to the disputed property by the Accountant General (AG), Odisha .

The OAA had got some relief on December 11 last year with a Supreme Court bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice UU Lalit granting a stay on the Crime Branch probe that Odisha High Court had ordered into the dispute following an appeal in the apex court by the OOA.

The apex court, in its interim order, had then said: “There shall be stay of operation of the impugned order till the next date of hearing.”

The single judge bench of Justice BP Ray of the high court had delivered the judgment on November 29 while dealing with the dispute involving the encroached area (0.705 acres) adjacent to a larger area (20.808 acres), which was granted on lease to the OOA by the state government in 1949 for construction of the Barabati Stadium.

The Crime Branch had started its probe into the affairs of the OOA following the high court order. The district administration had also taken possession of the Kalyan Mandap (Barabati Palace) and 23 shops that had come up on the encroached land.

The OOA is the apex sports body of state associations for various sporting disciplines such as football, hockey, table tennis, basketball and athletics.

The Cuttack collector had filed an appeal in the high court in 2001 after a subordinate court had permanently restrained the administration from executing an order of eviction from the encroached land while giving a verdict in the OOA’s favour.

Justice Ray had set aside the order passed by the first additional civil judge (senior division), Cuttack, and had sent the matter back to the subordinate court for disposal within six months. He had directed the district collector to take over the property that had come up on the encroached land.

The court had appointed the collector as the receiver of the property till disposal of the case.

Justice Ray had also directed the additional director general of police (crime branch) to probe into the affairs of the OOA, the custodian of Barabati Stadium, and submit its report within three months.

The court felt an inquiry was necessary as the affairs of the OOA were prima facie not clean and its entire deal was fraught with malafide.

Justice BP Ray had observed that the assets of OOA had become “the parental property of some individuals”.

The High Court found that the OOA had permitted a private agency to construct the Kalyan Mandap on the encroached land and later signed an agreement with it while the dispute was pending before the subordinate court.

According to the annual report of the OOA placed at the association’s annual general meeting on September 19, 1999, the Kalyan Mandap was planned and construction taken up in September 1991.

Construction of the Kalyan Mandap complex named as Barabati Palace was completed in 1998. The then Chief Minister JB Patnaik had inaugurated it on January 28, 1999.

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