Puri: With an aim to transform Puri into a world heritage city, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik laid foundation stones for seven big-ticket development projects in the Pilgrim city here Thursday.
Naveen reached Talabania helipad at 11.45am and from there he left for Srimandir where he paid obeisance to the deities. The CM spent around 20 minutes inside the shrine.
Patnaik offered an earthen lamp at Aruna Stamba (pillar) at the Lions’ Gate and reached the Bhitara Katha (inner barricade) of the shrine through Baishi Pahacha, Kirtan Chakada, Nata Mandap and Jay-Bijay gate.
Patnaik also offered an earthen lamp before the presiding deities, sources said.
Extending his New Year greetings to the people, Naveen said, “I am always happy to visit Srimandir and pray for the welfare of the people of our state.”
The projects flagged off by the CM include ‘Shree Setu’, ‘Jagannath Ballav Pilgrim Centre’, ‘Multi-level Car Parking’ and ‘Municipal Market Complex’ under the Augmentation of Basic Amenities and Development of Heritage and Architecture (ABADHA) scheme, while other projects include improvement of ‘Swargadwar’, ‘Vending Zone at Sea Beach’ and ‘Centralised Kitchen for Mid-Day Meal and Aahar’.
The CM reviewed the progress of several mega projects while senior officials also briefed him about the status of the ongoing developmental and beautification projects. Appreciating these works, the CM added, “The projects surrounding the temple are very beautiful indeed.”
Notably, in October last year, the state government had sanctioned `3,208 crore under the ABADHA scheme in three years to transform Puri into a world heritage city. While `719 crore will be spent under the scheme in 2019-20, the cost of the projects to be taken up under ABADHA will be around `1402 crore and `1087 crore in 2020-21 and 2021-22 respectively.
Among others who were present with the CM are, School and Mass Education Minister Samir Ranjan Dash, Puri MLA Jayanta Sarangi, Pipli MLA Pradeep Maharathy, former legislators Maheswar Mohanty and Sanjay Das Burma, DIG (Central Range) Ashish Singh, Puri Superintendent of Police Umashankar Dash and several officials of the district.
School and Mass Education Minister Samir Ranjan Dash said, “The Chief Minister has fulfilled all his promises for the development of Odisha in last 20 years. He had a dream to make Puri a world-class city. Today, the dream has become a reality. The state government has also taken steps to beautify the surroundings of Konark Sun temple and Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneswar.”
Police, meanwhile, detained at least 70 Youth Congress activists for opposing the CM’s Puri visit. The agitators sought an overbridge at Siddha Mahaveer level crossing, audit of Srimandir Ratnabhandar and rehabilitation of displaced shopkeepers.
Are you happy?
Hundreds of devotees were seen waiting on the temple premises to witness the CM’s visit. “Apana mane khusi ta (Are you happy?),” some devotees loudly asked the CM at Srimandir Satapahacha. “I am very much happy,” a smiling Patnaik replied to the devotees.
Review of blueprint
Patnaik reviewed a draft blueprint for the heritage corridor project. Senior officials including Works department secretary and Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) chief Krishan Kumar, 5T secretary VK Pandian and Puri Collector Balwant Singh explained the blueprint to the Chief Minister.
The blueprint has details about the entrance of the heritage corridor, a library, cloakrooms, security posts, meditation centre, art pavilion, watchtower, mini forest, Botanical Park, food stalls, seating arrangements, a lotus pond and a designated place for chariot construction. “The CM has suggested certain changes to the heritage corridor blueprint,” said the Works department secretary. A glance at
The Chief Minister made a quick glance of the beautification work at the Lions’ Gate of Srimandir. He also took a look at the construction of shoe-stands and cloakrooms near the 12th century shrine. “At least 5,000 devotees can keep their shoes and mobile phones at the cloakrooms at a time,” said an official.
Construction in khandelite stone
The Srimandir heritage corridor and all other projects sanctioned for the Holy City under the ABADHA scheme would be constructed in khandelite stone. “The projects would be implemented to make it last for at least 1,000 years. The projects would display the art and architecture of Odisha,” said the Works department secretary.
Final design in February
The final design for Srimandir heritage corridor would be published in February, revealed the Works secretary. The state government had sought suggestions from people to finalise a design for the heritage corridor. “Many people have submitted their valuable suggestions for the project. We will examine the suggestions and prepare the final design,” he said.