Bhubaneswar/ New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has intensified protest against Puri Bagala Dharmashala issue, this time citing the misgivings of the Odisha government. While many party leaders continued with their agitation at the pilgrim town, BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra has highlighted lack of transparency and misgivings of the government over alleged illegal plotting and sale of the century-old dharmashala.
Addressing a presser in Delhi on Tuesday, the spokesperson of the saffron party targeted Puri administration, State government and Tourism department and presented some factual revelations to counter government information in this regard.
Sharing a letter written by Tourism Secretary Vishal Dev to Chairman ITDC and its counter by ITDC CMD, Patra said that the Centre had provided an assistance of Rs 21 crore under PRASAD scheme to Bagala Dharmasala for the development of facilities to accommodate pilgrims.
India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) commenced the work and spent approximately Rs 3.26 crore for the pile foundation after being allocated a plot near Puri temple.
However, the State government abruptly stopped the work and sought its discontinuation stating (in the letter dated July 1, 2020) that 'the project is yet to commence even after six years', which ITDC quoted as factually incorrect.
The state government had also proposed shifting of the Bishram Sthali to different sites, the ITDC mentioned.
Taking into account all these developments, Patra alleged it's a conspiracy to drop the project, so that the administration could sell the Dharmashala land in an illegal manner.
"The State government had granted approvals and land for the project. Suddenly, a letter was shot by Odisha government that ITDC is not executing the said project, but ITDC's response letter has cleared the confusion of the public. There is involvement of some BJD leaders in this illegal plotting," Patra alleged.
The State Congress also raised similar concerns. Senior MLA Sura Routray alleged, "Everyone is aware ITDC has sanctioned crores for the construction of Dharmashala and increase the lodging capacity. Instead of initiating the developmental activities, six plots have been sold illegally, which is a part of the government's conspiracy."
Refuting the allegations of conspiracy and illegal plotting, Tourism Minister Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi informed that the State government is undertaking beautification drive in Puri under Abhada scheme while the Works department has already been notified about land-related issues concerning Bagala Dharmashala, Interpretation Centre and the problems with approach road.
Earlier, the Puri district administration had come up with a clarification on the Bagala Dharmshala issue stating, “The land in question was never sold to anyone who is not connected with the project rather allotted and transferred to the displaced lodge owners, yatri nivas, dharmasala and hotels as per resettlement assistance provisions of the Rehabilitation and Resettlement (R&R) package. Only a piece of vacant land (12.23%) has been utilized for the purpose of rehabilitation and resettlement for those who have given their land for temple development."
A brief note on Bagala Dharmshala Issue.....District administration Puri. pic.twitter.com/C8fXx9ujvS
— PuriOfficial (@Puri_Official) August 24, 2020