Rashmi Rekha Das

A park named after Pradeep Maharathy, a former minister and a seven-time legislator from Pipili, is lying in dire strait at Panidola panchayat in Puri district owing to lack of care and maintenance.

A year ago, Maharathy Gramya Udyana was inaugurated by his son Rudra Maharathy. Meanwhile, the park has turned a safe haven for venomous snakes. That’s not all. The statue of the leader unveiled inside the park is in bad shape. What seems more insulting to the veteran BJD leader is that his statue has been soiled by bird droppings. And nobody cares to clean the BJD leader’s statue since its inauguration. 

Moreover, sculptures of wild animals displayed for the amusement purpose have been covered with wild shrubs at the park. 

Babuli Dalei, a local resident, said “The park was inaugurated a year back. After a month of its inauguration, it faced closure. The sarpanch claims  he has spent Rs40 lakh for the park but he is yet to get back his money. Due to lack of maintenance, the statue of Natu Babu (Maharathy fondly called as Natu Babu) is crying for attention due to bird droppings. The government should reopen it.”

Known for his exceptional organisational capacity, Maharathy’s contribution for Pipili is huge. It’s a matter of shame that even residents of the panchayat that comes under his constituency do not even bother to clean his statue and take efforts to reopen the park, claim intellectuals. 

According to sources, Maharathy had started construction of this park at the cost of Rs 27 lakh at Panidola panchayat when he was alive. However, his son Rudra Maharathy inaugurated the park just before panchayat elections. The contractor hired for the project locked the park one and half months after its inauguration as the authorities failed to clear his dues. 

“The district administration should take responsibility of its maintenance.  Instead of coming up with a park at this place, had the administration set up a potato store for farmers, it would have been profitable for farmers”, rued a resident Mohan Mangraj. 

It is pertinent to note that the Odisha government had decided to develop a park at every gram panchayat in a bid to provide avenues for amusement, recreation and entertainment to people of rural areas.

Ajay Nayak, sarpanch of Panidola panchayat, said, “It’s true that the park is locked but I don’t know the reason behind its closure. The park has been handed over to me two days back. I have decided to begin its renovation soon.”

Reported by Dwitikrushna Patnaik, OTV