Saswat Singhdeo

Puri: A meeting between Puri district collector and a 15-member team representing various stakeholders over the ongoing demolition work near Puri Jagannath temple ended inconclusively today. According to sources, district collector Balwant Singh refused to accept the demand of stakeholders who sought stoppage of demolition of shops adjacent to Meghnad Pacheri (boundary wall) of Srimandir.

The Puri collector informed that as focus is being given on safety and security of devotees, a complete blueprint of the demolition work has been prepared.

"The demolition of commercial structures will continue near Srimandir and we are consulting on minimising the inconveniences of people," said Puri collector.

On the other hand, the stakeholders have threatened to oppose the demolition by lying down before bulldozers engaged in demolition work. They have also said that they will meet Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and apprise him if required.

"Those who had lost their property during the eviction work in 2015 are yet to get compensation, so it is difficult to trust CM Naveen's words. If the demolition will continue, we will resort to silent protest and lie down in front of the bulldozers," said senior servitor Damodar Padhani.

Speaking on the issue, Puri MLA Jayant Sarangi, said, "We had urged the State government to start rehabilitation process first and then undertake demolition, but things didn't happen that way. We are now waiting for Odisha government's blueprint.”

Due to protest by some local residents and sadhus, the demolition work of Bada Akhada Mutt was halted yesterday and postponed by the district administration after it failed to convince them during a discussion held yesterday.