A spat between the Kendra Lalithakala Akademi and the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi over vacating a room in the Durbar Hall building being used by the Central Akademi as a sales centre has snowballed into a feisty face-off with the Kerala Akademi locking it up on Saturday.

Two Central Akademi staff, posted at the sales centre, accused the State Akademi of breaking into their office and making away with things kept there. The police called the allegations baseless. Kerala Akademi officials also said that they had to take the drastic step as the last resort.

“Our staff emptied the room in the last two days. Everything is carefully packed and the Central Akademi has been informed about it. Either they can take delivery of it from here or we will deliver it to an authorised official of the Central Akademi,” said Sathyapal, secretary, Kerala Lalithakala Akademi.

According to him, the room was allotted to the Central Akademi to conduct its sales centre in 2004 on certain conditions. “They were supposed to have sales to the tune of Rs.2 lakh every year. It was also agreed that the sales centre would function from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on all working days of the Durbar Hall art gallery. Three months' notice was all that was required for eviction,” he said.

Relations turned sour after it was realised that the sales centre was hardly selling anything. “The sales office would hardly remain open for most of the day. The fact was brought to the notice of the Central Akademi. In the meantime, the Durbar Hall came under renovation in preparation for an international art show. We asked the Central Akademi to temporarily shift its centre to our new gallery at Thalassery in view of the renovation, but there was no official response. Now we want a permanent solution to the problem,” he said.