Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, May 17:
The famous Buddhist monument, Dhauli Peace Pagoda, on the outskirts of the Odisha capital has plunged into darkness since over three months as power supply to the Buddhist pilgrimage site has been cut off due to non-payment of outstanding bills.
The state tourism department is yet to clear dues towards electricity bill to the tune of Rs 4.38 lakh after which Central Electricity Supply Utility (CESU) has snapped power supply to the tourist site.
The famous Buddhist shrine built in 1972 to commemorate the Kalinga War has remained in the dark since last three months.
Several petitions were sent to Tourism Minister Ashok Panda, tourism department officials, Collector, Dhauli Development Council and other concerned officials, but in vain.
The apathetic attitude of the district administration has raised resentment among the tourists as well as local visitors as anti-social elements rule the roost post dusk.
While the tourists visiting the historic site after sunset are facing inconvenience, the young couples thronging the hill temple are being harassed by hostile elements. There have been increasing complaints of love birds being beaten up and robbed, especially in the recent past.
Notably, a 250 KV power transformer was installed on the foothills of Dhauli in July, 2013 for the illumination of the monument and its surroundings at a cost of around Rs 50 lakh. The work on the proposed project was scheduled to be completed within a month. However, it is yet to see the light of the day.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Tourism Minister Ashok Panda had inaugurated the lighting of the street lights connecting 76 posts.
The Tourism department and the Dhauli Development Council could not foot the electricity bills and subsequently it crossed Rs 4 lakh mark.
Despite several notices to the tourism department, the Uttara Electricity Section did not get any reply from them following which the power supply was cut off due to non-payment of pending bills.
“Power supply to the Buddhist site will be restored after the outstanding dues are cleared,” said Assistant Engineer of the Section, Bhabani Shankar Panigrahi.
On the other hand, the Assistant Engineer of OTDC, Prashant Kumar Jena said, discussions are on at higher levels to clear the pending dues towards electricity bills.
However, he could not throw light on how soon the bills will be cleared.