Somatirtha Purohit

Weeks after old and dilapidated buildings in the vicinity of the Puri Shree Jagannath temple, from Marichakota Chhak till Srimandir office, were demolished in a special drive, the Puri civic administration began a fresh anti-encroachment drive from Digabareni square in the city on Thursday.

“The new eviction drive is being carried out so that tourists can enjoy an unhindered view of sea beach from the road. We directed the vendors to put up stalls while giving adequate space for tourists to walk on the beach,” said Brundaban Pati, Officer in-charge of eviction drive.

The illegal, both big and small, vendors were allegedly creating nuisance for the tourists and making the beach littered with disposable plates and leftover food items. The drive was carried out to clear the road of encroachments which were obstructing vehicular traffic.

“We have been doing business peacefully here since long. We have no idea why the government is evicting us now,” asked the vendors.

They added, “The sea beach is the source of income for us. We don’t have farmlands to fall back on for alternate sources of income.” 

“I will sit on the road side to sell my products as the shop has been removed now,” said an old woman who sells cucumber at the beach.

The eviction drive was opposed by the street vendors who staged a road blockade after their stalls were demolished. They demanded proper rehabilitation and compensation.

In 2020, the Golden beach at Puri had been accorded the prestigious 'Blue Flag' certification by FEE Denmark. Blue Flag beaches are considered to be the cleanest beaches. Puri beach is one of the eight beaches in the country that has been accorded the coveted Blue Flag tag by the Foundation for Environment Education (FEE), Denmark.

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