Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Though the Odisha government has set a deadline of January 17, 2024, to dedicate the Srimandir Heritage Corridor Project to the devotees, the construction work of the reception centre is yet to commence.

Odisha Bridge & Construction Corporation (OBCC) and the Puri district administration that are in charge of the construction work have exuded confidence about the completion of the work before the deadline. However, they are still clueless about the place where the proposed reception centre will come up. Under such circumstances, some servitors of Srimandir have put a question mark on the completion of the project in time.

As per the drone image of the ongoing Srimandir Heritage Corridor Project, construction work is currently going on near all three ‘dwaras’ (doors) except ‘Singha Dwara’. However, nothing has been completed yet. As many as six toilets, three shelter pavilions, and cloakrooms have been constructed near the south, west, and north dwaras (doors). However, as per the earlier decision, the reception centre to be built near Emar Mutt is yet to be constructed. Ironically, everybody seems to be clueless about it.

Meanwhile, some servitors have slammed the administration for the long delay in the construction work of the project.

“There have been so many changes in the earlier plan of the project. The construction work has become sluggish. Target was set to complete the construction of the reception centre before January 1. However, it doesn’t seem possible now,” said Madhaba Pujapanda, a member of the Shree Jagannath Temple Managing Committee.

“It’s quite unfortunate that the project work has not been completed even nearly after four years. Now, to complete the project in haste to meet the deadline doesn’t make any sense. Puri is the greatest of all the four ‘dhams’ in India and hence Srimandir Heritage Corridor Project should cover all the facilities. There are sufficient places and at least two reception centres should be built to provide proper hospitality to the devotees,” said senior servitor, Krushna Chandra Khuntia.

The project work started on November 24, 2021, with a budget provision of Rs 331.28 crore. However, several changes have been made to the original design of the project. Still, the construction work of the proposed reception centre, which is most important for the devotees, is yet to be undertaken. While some officials involved in the construction are saying that the centre with a seating capacity of 800 people will be built near Emar mutt, others are saying that the centre with a seating capacity of 4,000 will be built behind the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration office. Moreover, as per the OBCC, two reception centres will come up in the aforesaid places. However, no initiative in this regard has been taken yet. 

Now, questions are being raised about whether the construction work of the proposed reception centre will be completed before the set deadline or not.

“With the support of the district administration, we are acquiring land for the construction of the reception centre. Now, plans are afoot to build a bigger reception centre to accommodate around 5,000 devotees with air-conditioning facility,” said OBCC Managing Director, Jayakrushna Das.

“Construction is being undertaken in a step-by-step manner as per the plan. With the Lord’s grace, everything will be completed in time,” said Puri Sub-Collector Bhabatarana Sahu.