Pradeep Pattanayak

The makeshift roadside vendors from Market Chhak to Hospital Chhak that were evicted on December 25 on account of the inauguration of the Srimandir Parikrama project in Puri staged a demonstration on the Grand Road (Bada Danda ) on Friday demanding rehabilitation. 

The agitating vendors alleged that they are now finding it difficult to keep their pot boiling back in their houses as their livelihood has been snatched away. They also alleged that they haven’t received the promised assistance of Rs 15,000. Some others sought to know when they would be rehabilitated. 

“The business for these makeshift vendors is dependent on tourists. They would do business mostly on the Grand Road and sea beach. They can’t do their business anywhere in the city. Because of Shree Setu and designated parking place, the grand road is now bearing a deserted look,” said an agitating vendor.

Expressing his anger, another businessman said, “It is a good thing that the Srimandir Parikrama project has been inaugurated. But it doesn’t mean that you will beautify the city by forcing people to starve. They had assured us of rehabilitation but no discussion to that effect has been done. How we will run our families?"
“Our demand is to allow us to do business on the grand road as long as we have not been rehabilitated. We will continue our strike till our demands aren’t met,” said another agitating businessman. 

The agitation got more strength as Puri MLA Jayant Sarangi joined them and said their displacement wasn’t necessary. 

“As the businessmen sought my intervention, as an MLA, it is my duty to provide protection to them. As per our party’s decision, we will support the businessmen. There was no need to evict the businessmen from the stretch from the Market Chhak to Hospital Chhak because around 90 percent of devotees are using Shree Setu and Shree Danda to reach the temple,” said Sarangi.

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