The Congress party and Puri-based outfit Jagannath Sena on Sunday protested the move of the Railways to shift the British-era steam locomotive lying in front of the BNR hotel in Puri in a dilapidated condition.
The protesters have demanded necessary repairing and renovation of the old-age steam engine and its installation at the same place or anywhere in Puri for public display.
“We don’t understand the reason for shifting of the engine which has been lying here for over 100 years. The Puri town is being converted into a heritage city at the cost of crores of rupees to attract tourists from across the globe. Amid such a time, attempts are being made to shift the heritage engine, a beautiful landmark in the town, to other place which is very saddening,” rued Ashutosh Mishra, a former student Congress leader.
“We condemn and protest such move of the Railways and the government, whoever is planning to shift the locomotive,” he added.
Similarly, the Jagannath Sena also reiterated the same demands for the heritage engine. The Sena activists have planned to submit a memorandum to Railway Minister Aswini Vaishnaw who is scheduled to visit the pilgrim town on August 16.
“We will submit a memorandum to Railway Minister Aswini Vaishnaw during his visit to Puri on August 16. He would be protested with black flags if he doesn’t agree to our demands,” said Priyadarshan Patnaik, Convenor of Jagannath Sena.
Patnaik added that the engine is a glaring testimony to the rich history of our country and if it is well preserved, it will be an unforgettable legacy for the next generation.
"We request the Puri residents to lend voice against the plan. I also appeal to the Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Puri MP and MLA to raise voice against such a move,” Patnaik added.
Recently, the Railway department announced that it has decided to shift the engine to Bhubaneswar and keep it in the upcoming rail museum for display with necessary renovation and beautification.
The heritage steam engine PL-692 has been lying unattended in front of the BNR hotel for years. The machine needs immediate attention as rust has corroded it completely.
According to sources, the engine was imported by the then king of Paralakhemundi at a cost of Rs 12,000. It was running on 2 feet 6 inches gauge in Nuapada-Gunupur section covering a distance of around 90 km.