Bhubaneswar: Even as his detractor Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) senior leader and Union Human Resources Development Minister Prakash Javadekar claimed that the popular ‘Re 1 a kilo rice’ scheme of the Odisha government is ‘Modi rice’, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today played yet another masterstroke that is likely to woo elderly voters in favour of his party-BJD.
Patnaik today laid the foundation stone of a seven storey building in Puri to house ‘Habisialis’ (elderly widows who observe Kartik Brata at Sri Jagannath temple) during the holy Hindu month of Kartik.
The Chief Minister laid the foundation stone for the building to be constructed at Narendra Kona through video conferencing from the State Secretariat here.
The building to be built at a cost of Rs 39 crore will have the capacity to accommodate 2000 Habisialis, said an official release issued by the CM’s office.
The Chief Minister directed concerned officials to complete construction of the building by next year.
Sources close to the development said the building would be ready before the Kartik month next year for use by Habisialis.
Patnaik while asking Habisialis to take advantage of facilities provided by the State government, directed Puri district administration to make arrangements for facilitating darshan at the Sri Jagannath temple for Habisialis who are coming from far-flung places.
While Revenue & Disaster Mitigation Minister Maheswar Mohanty, Chief Secretary A P Padhi, Development Commissioner R Balakrishnan and other senior officials were present at the function in the State Secretariat, Brahmagiri MLA Sanjay Dasburma , Satyabadi MLA Uma Ballav Samantaray, Chief Administrator Sri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) Pradip Jena and Puri Collector Arvind Agarwal were present at Puri.
It may be noted here that the State government has been providing free boarding, food and other facilities to Habisialis in temporary shelters under its Kartik Habisiali Brata programme since last year.
This year too, the district administration has set up three temporary shelters for the stay of around 3,000 Habisialis during the holy month of Kartik which began today with facilities of free food (serving of Mahaprasad) and other related facilities.
Last year, Habisialis had a narrow escape at the temporary shelter at Bagala Dharmashala as a fire had broken out due to electrical short circuit in a ceiling fan.