Puri: The Central and state governments have pumped in around Rs 200 crore for the development of the Holy City though most of the projects earmarked for the purpose are yet to be implemented in this renowned pilgrim town that keeps having a huge tourist footfall round the year.
Both the governments have embarked upon at least five development schemes in the last three years to develop basic infrastructure and preserve heritage sites in this religious place. However, poor implementation of projects has defeated the very objective of these schemes.
The Centre has drawn up four schemes for the Pilgrim City—PRASAD, HRIDAY, AMRUT and Iconic City – while the state government has launched an exclusive scheme called ABADHA to upgrade infrastructure. All this have a financial implication of around `200 crore.
However, locals and visitors are yet to witness any remarkable improvement in civic amenities here. Extensive water logging on the Grand Road (Badadanda) during rainy season and overflowing drains in several localities speak volumes about the civic woes.
PRASAD: The Union Ministry of Tourism had included the city under Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) scheme in 2015 to give a facelift to the heritage sites. The Centre has allocated `50 crore for the purpose. Authorities had decided to renovate Bagala dharmashala, do landscaping at Srigundicha temple and construct a multi-level parking under the scheme. However, India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), the nodal agency for implementation of projects under the scheme, has failed to take up any of the planned projects.
HRIDAY: The city was included under the Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) of the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Development in June, 2015 for upgradation of tourism infrastructure. The Centre has planned to spend `22 crore under the scheme and allocated `7.44 crore in the first phase. The administration had planned to take up altogether six projects by spending the sanctioned amount. It was decided to renovate several mutts, gardens and community centres under the HRIDAY plan. Moreover, the administration had planned to beautify Musa river and set up a recreational park in Banki estuary area. However, most of these projects are in preliminary stage. The administration has so far spent `2 crore from the sanctioned amount. In a development, Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Development secretary Durgashankar Mishra has written to state chief secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi asking him to review the projects being implemented under the HRIDAY scheme. Mishra has expressed concern over the tardy progress of projects and asked Padhi to complete all of them by March 2018.
AMRUT: The city, popular for the Jagannath temple, was selected for the implementation of Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) of the Union Ministry of Urban Development in 2015. The administration had planned to set up three recreation parks and renovate a few others under the AMRUT plan. It has so far set up a park at Srikhetra colony and renovated another at Sarvodaya Nagar. The administration had recently laid the foundation for recharging two fresh water zones in the city and improving drinking water supply system for the residents. The Centre has planned to spend around `40 crore under the project but a lot remains to be done.
Iconic City: The Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation had declared Puri as an Iconic City under the Swachh Bharat Mission in 2016 and planned to improve cleanliness around Srimandir and beautify the city with construction of fountains. The district administration had also decided to set up a heritage corridor and renovate a museum and a few parks under the Iconic City plan. Authorities have established two water fountains at Subhas Bose Square and Acharya Harihar Square under the scheme. It has also taken steps to renovate Gandhighat park and paint walls of houses with pictures on religious themes. However, it is yet to declare Srimandir surroundings as a green zone and deploy at least 25 electronic autos to ferry devotees from Srijagannath Ballav park to the 12th century shrine.
ABADHA: The state government has launched a special scheme called Augmentation of Basic Amenities and Development of Heritage and Architecture (ABADHA) in the current financial year to upgrade civic amenities in Puri. It has planned to spend around `100 crore under the scheme. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had recently laid the foundation stone for a seven-storey building to house Habisyalis (devout elderly women) in the Hindu month of Kartika. The state government will spend `39 crore on the project. Besides, the district administration will expand a road connecting Bira Harekrushnapur and Subhas Bose Square under ABADHA plan. But the progress rate seems to be very tardy.
When contacted, collector Aravind Agarwal said the district administration is assisting the ITDC for speedy implementation of projects under the PRASAD scheme.
“We have taken up two projects under the HRIDAY plan and completed tenders for the remaining ones. Rain has hampered implementation of the projects. We will expedite work and complete all the projects by the due dates,” Agarwal added.
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