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Mrunal Manmay Dash

Puri: Following the uproar over sale of historic Bagala Dharmashala land to private parties under the Heritage Project rehabilitation scheme, the district administration issued a clarification on Wednesday.

The Additional Collector of Puri, Vinay Kumar Das said, “The allegations that the district Collector has sold the land to other parties are completely baseless. All the steps have been taken as per existing Government guidelines.”

“The business owners and hoteliers evicted under the Srimandir beautification project were asked to choose one time monetary settlement or a plot of land. And the beneficiaries who chose the latter were provided land at the Bagala Dharmashala as per the government’s policy of rehabilitating them within 300 metre radius along the Grand Road,” said Das.

Bagala Dharmashala was governed under the lodging house act, which has been repealed by the government since September 2018. So we have moved the dharmashala to the books of Revenue department,” clarified Das.

Speaking about the decision to demolish the historic dharmashala, Das said that the building was too old and deemed unsafe for the inmates and the demolition was required anyway.

Meanwhile, the move has not only been criticized by devotees and intellectuals, but by ruling-BJD leaders as well. Raising concern over the issue, former Speaker of Odisha Assembly, Maheswar Mohanty said, “It was the only government-run Dharmashala in the town. The decision should be reconsidered.”

(Edited By Bikram Keshari Jena)

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