Puri: Row erupted in the pilgrim town of Puri following reports of district administration selling land of Bagala Dharmashal to various hoteliers and private parties.
As per the reports, the land of the Dharmashala was divided into plots and was sold to six different hoteliers between August 5 and August 12.
One of the sale deeds, a copy of which is in possession of OTV, revealed that one Deepak Kumar Sahu from Balasore purchased a piece of land from the District Collector of Puri on August 12, 2020 on which the Bagala Dharmashala once stood.
Similarly, the Collector also sold the land to one Kalpana Mohanty from Markandeswar Sahi in Puri. As per the plan, district administration has proposal to sell a total of 2.7 acres of land belonging to Bagala Dharmashala by dividing it into 26 plots.
Social activist Jagannath Bastia, who had filed a petition in this connection in Orissa High Court in December 2020, alleged that "It was a conspiracy hatched by the Puri district administration which has sold the donated land of the only government-run Dharmashala to hoteliers at a throwaway price."
It is pertinent to mention here that citing it to be unsafe, the Bagala Dharmashala, which is perhaps the only facility that provides services to devotees from the economically backward sections of the society to perform religious services, was demolished a few years back.
It was announced that a new building will be constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 18 crore at the site. The funds for the project were also allocated from the State Government’s Abadha Yojana.
However, resentment surfaced after the district administration’s decision to allot Bagala Dharmashala land to hoteliers and private parties evicted under the ambitious heritage corridor project of the Odisha government.
Bagala Dharmashala situated in the Balagandi Mouja of Puri was donated by Seth Kanheyalal Bagala in 1905. Though Kanheyalal had only entrusted the district administration with the management of the Dharamshala, it is alleged that there has been a conspiracy to change the ownership of the land as well.
On the other hand, Puri MLA Jayant Sarangi said, "If the administration wants to provide hoteliers land, then it can be done at other places. But demolishing Bagala Dharmashala is not justified."
No comments could be obtained from the authorities in this connection.