Mrunal Manmay Dash

Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Wednesday expressed his displeasure over the modernisation and beautification drive of Srimandir in Puri and Lingaraj Temple in Bhubaneswar.

He said destroying ancient sculptures and heritage belonging to fourth, fifth and seventh century to put tiles on them in the name of modernisation and road widening is unacceptable. He said as an Odia, it hurts him.

He said this while attending a discussion on the book, Vernacularizing Pasts: Odisha: Mahabharata to 'Modernity’ in Delhi on Wednesday.

The book discussion was organised by the Pravasi Odia Vikash Samiti.

The Odisha government had begun a beautification drive of Lingaraj Temple and its surrounding area in 2019. It was named Ekamra Khsetra Yojana which spanned across 66 acres.

Under the drive, nine projects including the renovation of historic water tanks, modern parking, Lingaraj Heritage Project, development of Kedar Gouri and Muketswara temple premises and establishment of a heritage interpretation centre were carried out. A park is also set up in front of Lingaraj Temple and vehicle movement in front of the temple has been banned.

Similarly, the Puri Heritage Corridor Project which was conceived in 2016 and unveiled in December 2019 by the Odisha government has been a contentious issue for many years. While the project saw many heritage buildings including ancient mutts and libraries demolished in order to beautify the Grand Road, it attracted serious criticism from all quarters of the society.

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