Puri: The state government has initiated process for renovation of Swargadwar here but the district administration is yet to remove encroachments from the area.
Many social activists and intellectuals have alleged that the district administration is trying the shield the encroachers at Swargadwar (the cremation ground which is also believed to be the gateway to haven).
The social activists have claimed that Swargadwar cremation ground had spread over 16 acre land in the past.
However, many influential people have illegally acquired a major portion of the ground over the years.
“The total area of Swargadwar cremation ground was 16.400 acre in 1927. However, it has now been reduced to only 465 decimal. Many influential people have encroached upon the cremation ground over the years,” said Sachetan Nagarik Manch president Prasanna Kumar Dash.
According to Dash, the Revenue Divisional Commissioner (Central) had directed the district administration to launch a probe into the land grab and take action against the encroachers. However, the district administration is yet to comply with the RDC order, Dash said.
“The administration has performed the ground breaking ceremony for the development of Swargadwar February 13. But, no step has been taken to remove the encroachers from the cremation ground. It seems that the administration is trying the shield the encroachers,” Dash added.
Many people across the state usually prefer to perform the last rites of their near and dear ones at Swargadwar cremation ground.
As per the belief, the soul finds the ultimate salvation if the body is cremated at Swargadwar, which is rooted with Jagannath culture.
However, poor facilities at Swargadwar often cause inconvenience to the bereaved people who opt to cremate the bodies at the seaside cremation ground.
Taking up the issue seriously, the state government has sanctioned Rs 5 crore to develop infrastructure at Swargadwar. It has also decided to develop the cremation ground in line with Mahaprasthanam crematorium in Hyderabad.
As per the plan, the entrance of Swargadwar will be beautified and the cremation ground will have restroom for the bereaved people. Besides, some elevated platforms will be constructed for cremation of bodies. Moreover, the cremation ground will be beautified with lawns and special facilities will be made for storage of ‘asthi’ or ashes.
It is worth mentioning here that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had announced the demolition of the memorial of former Chief Minister Biju Patnaik at Swargadwar to pave way for the development of the cremation ground.