Published: 01st June 2022
Cuttack's Shailabala College alumni protest land takeover for Chandi Mandir beautification project
Alumni members also gathered to express their solidarity to protect the institution from 'irrational and deliberate' acquisition of its land for non-educational purposes
The government's Chandi Mandir beautification project has run into stiff opposition from alumni of Shailabala Women's Autonomous College over plans for takeover of the institution's playground. The Old Students' Association of the college has written a letter to the Chief Minister, requesting him to prevent the acquisition of the playground which has helped to produce many state and national level players in football, basketball, netball, kabaddi, kho kho and other games.
It will also hamper future development of one of the oldest colleges of the state. "Reducing the land would lead to curtailing the growth and future of women sportspersons and will also seal the fate of this august institution from ever becoming a heritage university," the letter stated.
Several alumni members also gathered in front of Chandi Mandir on the evening of May 30 to express their solidarity to protect the institution from 'irrational and deliberate' acquisition of its land for non-educational purposes. Going by the temple development plan, the college is going to lose a major portion of its playground spread over three acres and also the newly constructed four-storey hostel building under the 5T initiative. Further, the Culture department is laying its claim on the building that was once the residence of Utkal Gaurav Madhusudan Das and also the major portion of the frontal area, including the main gate.
"The institution was established in 1913 to educate and empower women at a time when they were totally subjugated, crushed and quelled. Both the lands are gifts from Shailabala Das, daughter of Madhu Babu, for expansion of the college. In fact, every inch of the land in the Arts and Science block is gifted for enhancing women’s education. A breach here would mean dishonouring and betraying the will of the donor and violating the Gift Deed," read the letter.
"Reducing the playground land will lead to curtailing the growth and future of women sportspersons not only of Odisha but also of the entire country. The move of the State Government will also seal the fate of the august institution from ever becoming a heritage university, a status that it deserves for the symbol of revolution that took place years ago. Besides, the move will also deny its eligibility to even qualify for assessment of NAAC accreditation which insists upon fitness for students with indoor and outdoor games and sports activities including gymnasium and sports hostel," it added.
Being the first women's college of the state and third in the country, it should not be subjected to such disgrace that will reflect on the State Government itself, said alumni association President Gopa Das, a retired principal of SCS College, Puri. Collector Bhabani Shankar Chayani said that the proposal for handing over Madhu Babu's residence to the Culture department has been postponed. Only 465 decimal of land will be taken to facilitate a road to the shrine and the government will build an indoor sports complex for the college, he added.