Puri: Residents of all walks of life of the pilgrim city are up in arms against the attempt of the district administration to distribute Bagala Dharmshalla land to hoteliers and people displaced from the heritage zone of Sri Jagannath temple.
The closely guarded move of the administration came to fore after Odisha Bridge construction corporation (OBCC) applied to Puri Konark Development Authority (PKDA) for approval of plot layout plan on the Bagala Dharmshalla land evoking sharp reactions among the public.
Ashok Kumar Das, a senior advocate of Puri Bar Association said the administration was violating the established principles of law and even the Supreme court(SC) ruling.
Kanhaiyalal Bagala Dhurmshalla constructed by Seth Kanheiyalal is situated in Balagandi mouza along the Badadanda to cater to the needs of economically backward devotees who stay there and perform religious rites like thread and marriage ceremonies at a nominal cost.
The Dharamshala has a number of rooms in its complex where poor pilgrims take shelter on their arrival at Puri. A deep pond was also dug up in the complex for the use of the pilgrims.
Kanhaiyalal had entrusted the district administration to run the Dharamshala long back and since then it was being managed by Puri lodging house fund committee which was formed and governed under the Bihar and Odisha places of pilgrim act 1920.
In 2016-17 the India tourism development corporation demolished a portion of Dharmshalla to reconstruct it with financial support from the government of India under PRASAD yojna.
The Director of Odisha tourism had applied PKDA for approval of reconstruction plan outlay of Bagala Dharmshalla which is still pending for approval.
On November 2, 2018, the state government repealed the Bihar and Odisha places of pilgrim act 1920. The lodging-house fund committee along with Bagala Dharamshala and its land was merged with the Puri municipality.
In a surprise move, the executive officer of the municipality obtained permission from the director of municipal administration and transferred the Dharmshalla land to revenue and disaster management on October 25, 2019.