Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 26:
Anticipating huge footfall for the Nabakalebara of the Lords this year, the Odisha government had constructed 33 Nabakalebara villages with an estimated expenditure of Rs 15.30 crore to house pilgrims and tourists visiting the holy town during the 11-day Rath Yatra this year. But barring a few closer to the Bada Danda (Grand Road), the devotees skipped these supposedly well-equipped dwelling places, defeating the very purpose behind the idea.
The villages in and around the pilgrim city were made of bamboo, aluminium and iron with round-the-clock facilities of drinking water, electricity, health facility, tourist help desk, security arrangements and sanitation. Despite all these facilities, the travellers turned the other way.
“Around Rs 15.30 crore was spent on the construction of 33 Nabakalebara villages to provide amenities to the tourists. The state government had made all the necessary arrangements, but they failed to attract the tourists. The sanctioned amount wasn’t properly utilised,” said Bijay Kumar Jena, Tourist Officer, Puri.
As per reports, the state government had planned to set up temporary sheds to accommodate around 1 lakh tourists during Nabakalebara Rath Yatra this year. But apart from Bagala Dharmasala on Grand Road, villages near Gundicha Temple Bus Stand, Sea Beach stretch and Talabania area, the density of tourists was far below the estimated numbers. Very few people preferred to stay in these villages apart from the police personnel.
Interestingly, many Nabakalebara villages wore a deserted look on the day of Rath Yatra on July 18.
Though it was decided to extend the dismantling of the temporary shelters depending on the requirements, the authorities have reportedly already started pulling down the sheds. Barring a few points connecting the Grand Road and the sheds occupied by the security personnel, a majority of the shelters have already been razed, sources said.
It is alleged that improper planning and faulty strategy has led to the poor show as tourists did not turn up at these shelter homes which have been erected on the outskirts of the city. The temporary shelter homes constructed at far off places like Baliguali, Samagara, Mangalahat, Seepasarubali, and Nagapatana, witnessed miserable attendance due to its location.