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Sculptors’ expertise could have added value


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OBCC- consultant nexus adds to woes

PURI: Odia sculptors in the past have constructed many splendid architectural marvels like the Jagannath Temple, Sun Temple and Lingaraj Temple which are standing tall even after hundreds of years.

But none of the sculptors have been included in the Puri Heritage Corridor project. Their experience could have been used for value addition and longevity of the project. But the Tata company which has been entrusted with the work, has no experience in constructing monuments and they are building contractors, knowledgeable sources said.

Besides, the company has no knowledge about Odisha’ culture, tradition and temple architecture.

The BP Dash commission which was formed to suggest reforms for smooth functioning of the Jagannath temple has batted for clearing structures in the 75-metre radius for safety of the temple and the pilgrims.

The   World Class Heritage Corridor project is being built on the lines of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project of Kashi Vishwanath Corridor and would be ready by 2024.

Puri heritage corridor, also known as Shree Mandir Parikrama Prakalpa, is Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s dream project. Once the corridor is ready, the popular pilgrimage city will have a special place on the map of world tourism. The total cost of the project is Rs 331.28 crore, with a historic decision by the State Government to construct the heritage corridor on 17 acres of land adjacent to 75 m of the Jagannath Temple.

The Odisha Bridge Construction Corporation (OBBC) is executing the work.

The OBCC which is involved in the Abadha project, Lingaraj Temple beautification work and construction of the Shree Setu has come under the scanner.

The Works Department Secretary who was in-charge of executing the CM’s dream project is no in-charge as he has gone on Central deputation.

The OBCC which had got a rebirth after implementing the aforesaid prestigious projects is now headed by a former Engineer-in-Chief, whose services have been extended twice.    

Besides, the Tata Consulting Engineers and some other consulting organisations involved in the project are being paid crores of rupees from the project’s funds. This has raised many questions on the successful implementation of the project work within the estimated cost.

Experts said the Parikrama project four entrances Bhajan, Bhojan, Yagna and Sadhan’s and cloak room, public toilet’s structural construction could have been avoided by using stainless steel, khandasite stone or stone carvings.

Because as this structure is in the saline coastal zone, it can be damaged in the long run. So anti-corrosion steel should be used.

The Ground Penetration Radar (GPR) survey should have been carried out for ascertaining the structural sustainability, they opined.

In the proposed Shree Setu flyover from Maltipatapur to Jagannath Ballabh Mutta normal steel is being used for construction. Instead, anti-corrosion steel should be used for longevity of the structure, in the saline coastal zone.

Earlier, the project work has fuelled apprehensions as the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has written to the State Government in March warning it of potential threats of the Puri Heritage Corridor project to the structural safety of the Puri Jagannath Temple. The letter came days after ASI Director General V Vidyavathi visited the temple in the last week of February to monitor the ongoing project work.

Notably, the ASI is the custodian of the Puri Jagannath Temple.

“During the visit, we found discrepancies. There were giant earth-moving machines and excavators, which are being used for digging activities close to the temple. The scale at which the process is underway, can pose potential threats to the temple’s structure. We have written to the Puri district Collector and the OBCC and have sought their replies to the purpose of the massive digging activities,” Arun Malik, Superintending Archaeologist, Bhubaneswar circle had said.

Courtesy: British Library

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