The iconic Jagannath temple in Puri is the single rallying point for Odias across the shores. It is not just any other tourist spot but a symbol of Odisha’s culture and heritage. One of the four ‘dhams,’ or places of religious importance for the Hindus, Puri town serves as an ideal destination for scores of tourists every year. Now, the historic city is set to undergo a makeover, ushering a new identity which identifies with tourists and devotees likewise. Puri is set to become a Grand Heritage city of Odisha.
The makeover journey started in August 2019, when Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced a slew of measures in the Shree Jagannath Heritage Corridor Project, Puri. A draft of architectural plan followed the announcement and it called upon people to give their suggestions.
“This is the draft architectural plan. I would like to solicit your valuable suggestion by January 15, 2020 on this draft plan so that we will come up with the final plan by February 2020,” CM Patnaik had said in a statement while releasing the draft architecture plan of the project.
As a part of the makeover of the entire city, the state government announced an expenditure of Rs 3208 crore for three years under the Augmentation of Basic Amenities and Development of Heritage and Architecture (ABADHA) scheme. The amount also includes beautifying and revamping other prominent temples in Odisha. For the Shree Jagannath Heritage Corridor project, a sum of approximately Rs 800 crore has been earmarked for it.
Land Acquisition & Rehabilitation
Within months of announcing the project, the state government went into action mode and the process of land acquisition. The rehabilitation, touted to be one of the biggest of its kind, encompasses all stakeholders – residents, shopkeepers and lodge owners.
The comprehensive rehabilitation package provides financial assistance laid out under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 and also kept open dialogue between the stakeholder and authorities in case of discrepancies.
The land acquired in the 75-metre area in the vicinity of Shree Jagannath temple will be recorded under the name of Lord Jagannath.
“Names of those who have donated land will be engraved for eternity in the heritage corner”Naveen Patnaik, Odisha CM
A housing project worth Rs 95 crore has been approved for rehabilitation of the families displaced by eviction.
The Shree Jagannath Heritage Corridor plan includes a heritage corridor for the security of the temple. The authorities have planned to clear the area around the temple to facilitate a pathway. The ‘Jagannath Ballav Math Centre,’ a pilgrim centre with parking facilities will be developed at a cost of Rs 180cr.
The ‘Shree Setu’ project, another highlight is pegged at a cost of Rs 190 crore. It will link a new road from Puri Bypass to Jagannath Ballav Math Pilgrim Centre. The plan includes an open-air theatre to popularise Odisha’s culture and art, CCTVs.
Musa Nadi at the entrance of the holy town, which currently remains silted, will be revived at a cost of Rs 85 crore. The revamp and revival of heritage ponds and the old mutts are also on the cards.
A 68 crore multilevel car parking at Jail Road with commercial space for 400 cars and 300 vending spaces will also be developed. The car parking at Jatrika is estimated to be developed at a cost of Rs 92 crore. The old municipal market in Puri will also be revamped. It will accommodate 500 vending spaces in 1.2 acre space.
In the final plan included is sitting arrangements and group prayer facility for 5000 people at Anand Bazar. The Acharya Harihar Square will also be redeveloped. It will include seating arrangement after widening of the road.
After almost a break of two months in the implementation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the project resumed in May. Once completed , the ambitious Puri Heritage city project will be a major highlight in Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s achievements.