Bagala Dharmasala sale row: Oppn targets Odisha govt; admin refutes allegations

Puri/Bhubaneswar: Sharpening its attack on the ruling BJD, the BJP today accused the State government of selling the historical Bagala Dharmasala land in Puri town.

BJP National Spokesperson Sambit Patra asked under whose direction the State government is hatching a conspiracy to sell the land of the Dharmasala. Speaking to media persons at the State BJP headquarters in Bhubaneswar, Patra said some families of the total 300 people, who were displaced to create the 75-metre heritage and security corridor around the Meghanad Prachir of Sri Jagannath Temple, have been allotted land in the Bagala Dharmasala premises. He questioned the motive behind allotting land to other displaced families elsewhere.

Patra termed the government’s move to bring the Bagala Dharmasala under the Revenue department from the purview of the Puri Municipality as a ‘conspiracy’. He alleged the Dharmasala land has been demarcated into 26 plots and plans are afoot to sale the same to lodge owners and hoteliers.

He also decried the move behind stoppage of work to construct ‘Jagannath Tirthanivas’ and carry out other development activities for which the Centre sanctioned Rs 20 crore under the PRASAD Yojana.

Earlier in the day, Patra sat in a dharna along with other BJP leaders in front of Bagala Dharamsala.

Refuting the charges, senior BJD leader and Puri MP Pinaki Mishra said in a tweet, “No question of sale of land of Bagala Dharamsala which is Govt. revenue land-15%of vacant land given as per land for land policy to our sevayat families who have given up their ancestral land for beautification of Jagannath temple surroundings. Standard all India Govt. policy.”

He further mentioned, “Dont try to sabotage CM’s dream project. Odisha and Puri people know the difference between CM’s love for Lord Jagannath and crocodile tears of a disgruntled & ignorant opposition.”

Later the Puri district administration said in a clarification the allegation of Bagala Dharmasala land sale is baseless. Around 12% of the land have been allotted to servitors and the families displaced for the beautification project as part of rehabilitation.

The administration further said, “The State Government as per the rehabilitation policy has rehabilitated some of them on the land now belonging to Revenue Department (which previously belonged to (Lodging House Fund Committee). The rehabilitation policy has been approved by the Cabinet and the same is being executed to ensure security of the Temple, increase in capacity as well as provision of better quality accommodation for pilgrims, so that Puri emerges as a world heritage centre.”

Worth mentioning, in order to cater to the needs of economically backward devotees, Seth Kanheyalal established the Bagala Dharmashala in 1905 on 2.574 acre of land along the Badadanda. The district Collector was entrusted the Dharmasala’s management.

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