Demolition Near Puri Jagannath Temple: Odisha Announces land, rent, cash assistance

Bhubaneswar: After facing criticism over the massive demolition drive near Puri Srimandir, Odisha government on Monday announced a special relief and rehabilitation package for the affected families and commercial establishments.

The demolition is currently underway to create a ‘security zone’ around the 12th century shrine and a number of houses, religious institutions including Mutts as well as other commercial establishments have been demolished.

Earlier, Odisha government on August 23 had announced an Rs 500-crore special package for rehabilitation of the affected people and development of the temple town into a world heritage site.

As per the relief and rehabilitation package, the affected people, institutions coming in the safe zone near Puri Srimandir will be acquired. Under the relief and rehabilitation package, all the families coming under the security zone of the Puri Srimandir are entitled for compensation and will get Rs 50,000 as transportation charges for relocation. A monthly assistance of Rs 10,000 will be provided to the affected families till they get a permanent house or land.

Besides, the affected families will have to choose one from three optional assistance i.e either they can go for an one-time settlement assistance of Rs 30 lakh or can opt for 520 sqft house in rehabilitation colony within 1.5 kms of Srimandir or 40×25 ft land within 2 kms of the temple. However, the families who will opt for Rs 30 lakh assistance will not be entitled to get assistance towards rent.

For commercial establishments, the State government has announced two types of assistance. The affected small, medium, large commercial units will get monthly assistance of Rs 5,000, Rs 10,000 and Rs 15,000 as rent and will be provided shops at various market complexes in Puri.

As per the relief and rehabilitation package meant for demolished lodges, Rs 10 lakh will be provided to the units built in an area above 3,000 sqft of land and Rs 5 lakh for the units below 3000 sqft of land.

Each lodge will get a monthly assistance of Rs 28/ sqft of land. The lodge owners can either avail one-time settlement at Rs 2000 per sqft of the total built up area or can opt for space (50X30, 50X40, 50X60 sqft)within 300 meters on either side of the Badadanda. Under this, an assistance of Rs 750 per sqft will be provided for construction.

For Mutts, Odisha government has also come up with a special rehabilitation and protection package under which Puri Collector has been asked to hold discussions with the affected parties and take necessary action.

Along with preservation of seats and deities of the Mutts, the package also includes a number of welfare measures.

As Puri Jagannath Temple is one of the most important historical heritage sites, no compromise will be made on its safety and security, senior officials of the State government argued.

The State government had undertaken an eviction drive to demolish all structures within a 75-metre area around the boundary wall of Puri Srimandir.