Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday inaugurated the ‘Srimandir Parikrama’ project, which aims at providing improved amenities for devotees around the Jagannath Temple in Puri.
The Rs 800-crore project was unveiled by the Chief Minister in the presence of Gajapati Maharaja of Puri Divyasingha Deb and representatives of about 90 temples, including the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Mahakal Temple in Ujjain and the Pashupatinath Temple in Nepal.
The 75-metre-wide heritage corridor around the temple includes a green buffer zone, a reception area for 6,000 devotees, the Jagannath Ballav pilgrim centre, multi-level car parking, dedicated pedestrian path and public convenience zones.
The project, which was announced in December 2019, was delayed due to the pandemic as well as the issuance of draft by-laws by the National Monuments Authority (NMA) for the temple in January 2021 that prohibited any construction within the 100-metre periphery of the temple. However, the bylaws were withdrawn after a request from the Chief Minister.
Similarly, in June last year, the Supreme Court dismissed two PILs challenging the renovation project, calling it “frivolous litigation”.
The BJD government had launched statewide promotion campaigns ahead of the inauguration. The government had declared a statewide holiday on Wednesday for the inauguration of the project.
Apart from that, screens were set up in panchayats and in block headquarters to telecast the event and special buses plied from different parts of the state to Puri for devotees to take part in the event.
After inaugurating the project, Chief Minister Patnaik said in a post on X, “Many people have dedicated and worked hard for this project in devotion to Lord Shri Jagannath. The Odia people will never forget the endless sacrifice of Puri people in particular. It is the project of our Lord, the symbol of the faith of every orthodox, every devotee. Jai Jagannath.”