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Ramakanta Biswas

Puri: After weeks of bearing ramshackle look during the extensive eviction drive around the Jagannath Temple, the Bada Danda or grand road in front of the 12-century shrine in the pilgrim city of Puri is all set to welcome devotees in a complete new look this New Year.

The district administration has taken up the renovation works to attract more tourists to the world famous Jagannath temple and as part of the plan, developments are being carried out in the 100-metre stretch of the Bada Danda in the first phase for smooth darshan of devotees.

The renovation works are currently underway in full swing and the administration has set December 25 deadline to complete the works.

In the first phase, a huge barricade will be constructed in front of Singhadwar which will have 14 lanes and sheds over it. The barricade will facilitate passage of about 2000 to 4,000 of devotees at one go while the sheds will protect them from sunlight and rain. Besides, automatic machines for washing of foot of the devotees will be installed.

“Setting of the barricade is a welcome step. However, measures should be taken to ensure the safe movement of elderly and differently-abled devotees in the area,” said a devotee, Seshadev Sahu.

In addition to the facelift, counters will be opened where devotees can keep their shoes, mobiles and luggage free of cost before entering the shrine. Similarly, toilet and drinking water facilities will be made available for devotees.

Apart from the development works, stress is being given for beautification of the surrounding where a large stretch of land have been freed after demolition drive on Mangu mutt, Emar mutt, Bada Akhada mutt & Sanachhata mutt. Sources said the free open stretch will be used for crowd management and parking facilities.

“A large number of devotees throng Srimandir during the December end and the beginning of New year every season. Works are underway and we are ensuring that all facilities for the devotees are in place by December 25,” said Puri Collector Balwant Singh.

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