Jajpur: Hundreds of locals have opposed the Odisha government’s decision to start mining at the historic Parabhadi hill at Bandareswar and Kesaraipur under Darpan tehsil of Jajpur district for Khondalite stones that is required for the beautification of Puri town. The residents of the area submitted a memorandum to Jajpur District Collector Chakravarti Singh Rathore in this regard.
Locals are of the view that Parabhadi hill is a historic site and has an ancient Boudha Stupa (Budhist Pillar). The structure is almost on the verge of extinction owing to lack of conservation and proper upkeep, they alleged.
The Parabhadi hill also has several other Buddhist structures. The villagers worship an ancient stone idol of Buddhist deity ‘Tara’. The goddess is popularly known in the region as ‘Ghantiasuni’.
Another monument named ‘Hatikhalo’ is located to north side of the Buddhist Pillar at Parabhadi hill and under Kesaraipur mouza.
Puri beautification project was chalked out earlier under the ambitious ABADHA scheme, a source stated. The beautification requires the Khondalite stone which is a foliated metamorphic rock. It is only available in the said region of Jajpur district.
Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) Limited has obtained environment clearance to conduct the mining. OMC has already set up machines for the purpose at the foothill.
Earlier, many residents from Bandareswar, Kesaraipur, Sukhuapada, Palai, Lalitgiri, Chandia and Teligarh villages had voiced their concerns over the government’s decision.
On being contacted, the manager of Khondalite mine (which has been leased out to OMC) Gangadhar Nayak said, “The mining process has started in Kesaraipur area and subsequently extraction will also be carried out in Sukhuapada as well.”
Local tehsildar Pradeep Sethi said, “Necessary steps are being taken after the government decided to conduct mining for acquiring Khondalite stones from Parabhadi hill. However, the location where the Buddhist Pillar stands will not be touched.”
The residents said that destroying the historic Parabhadi hill for the beautification of Puri town is unjust and illogical. “A memorandum in this regard will soon be submitted to the state government for withdrawal of its decision,” said the villagers. They also warned of widespread protests if their demands are not met.