Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Devotees of Lord Jagannath and local residents have expressed their resentments over the removal of various focus lights installed to illuminate the exterior of Srimandir in Puri soon after the government changed in Odisha.

Several focus lights were installed for the beautification and illumination of Srimandir, 'Bada Danda' and 'Meghanada' wall as part of the Srimandir Parikrama project undertaken by the Odisha government.

The lights were not installed permanently, rather an event company had installed them on a rental basis, sources said.

Though voices were also raised against such a temporary arrangement during its installation, such pleas were allegedly ignored. 

Following BJD's poll debacle in the recently-concluded 2024 General Elections, the company has allegedly uninstalled the lights overnight causing huge inconvenience to the devotees and local residents who have expressed their resentment.

The servitors of Srimandir have slammed the administration over the development.

"The BJD government doesn't have any devotion for Lord Jagannath and concern for the residents of Puri. The project was carried out because of petty politics. It could be the reason why the illumination arrangement was not done permanently and it was removed immediately after the fall of the BJD government," rued a servitor.

However, no reactions could be obtained from the administration in this regard.

Following the development, Odisha Chief Secretary Pradeep Kumar Jena has instructed the Puri collector to initiate an enquiry into this matter and take appropriate action against the persons involved. 

"I have instructed Collector Puri @dm_puri to cause an enquiry into this matter and take appropriate action against the persons involved. Further efforts to be made to restore lights at the earliest pending permanent solution to the problem if any at govt level," tweeted Jena.

Puri Collector Siddharth Shankar Swain assured that the uninstalled focused lights will be restored immediately.

"Efforts are underway to restore the focused lights immediately as it was increasing the aesthetic value of the place. The event company from New Delhi removed the lights without any prior intimation. Some employees of the company have been detained and an investigation is underway to identify the exact supplier. As per the orders of the Chief Secretary, an inquiry into the incident has been initiated. Action will be taken against erring officials if found guilty following the completion of the inquiry," said Swain.

The temple administration has already started an initiative to restore the illumination arrangement. 

"Hopefully, it will be restored soon. As per my knowledge, there was a project with ASI regarding the permanent illumination in Srimandir. The exact status of the project will be revealed soon," he added.

Now, questions have been raised on whose direction the lights were removed.

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