Eviction drive hits roadblock in pilgrim city

Puri: The eviction drive at Grand Road here hit the wall following stiff opposition from the local shopkeepers union.

The ‘Sreekhetra Cabin and Utha Dokani Mahasangha’ and the district administration were at loggerheads when the officials reached the spot to evict the illegal cabins and make-shift shops.

Raising slogans to rehabilitate the shopkeepers first, the cabin and shopkeepers union organized a mass rally at the ‘Bada Danda’ (Grand Road) and demanded the administration to evict only after proper rehabilitation.

“There was a condition for first providing shops and pandals for the people and then to evict. But the RDC is not following it”, said Dibakar Patra, Advisor, Sreekhetra Cabin and Utha Dokani Mahasangha.

Even the municipality chairperson joined the rally and pledged support to the union.

“Though we all welcome the move, we want proper rehabilitation first and then evictin” said Shantilata Pradhan, Chairwoman, Municipality of Puri.

After the opposition, the administration assured that a meeting of the local MLA, municipality and union members will be convened soon to sort out the issue.

“It was already informed the people that all identified shopkeepers will be shifted and rehabilitated here at the Jagannath Ballav Matha. The MLA is arriving here tomorrow and a decision will be taken after a detailed discussion with him”, said Prashant Kumar Senapati, Additional Collector, Puri.