Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Konark, May 6:
Activists of Konark Suraksha Samiti (KSS), an organisation spearheading the movement for preservation and conservation of the monument, today called for a dawn-to-dusk bandh and locked the main gate protesting the reintroduction of the increased entry fee of the famous Sun temple.
The members of the outfit sat on a dharna in front of the historic monument in protest against government’s decision to reintroduce the increased fee.
Notably, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had last month announced three-fold hike for domestic visitors and 100 per cent for foreign tourists for entry into the historic monuments, including Konark temple, across the country. The ticket price was increased from Rs 10 to Rs 30 for the domestic visitor, while the entry fee for foreign tourists was doubled from Rs 250 to Rs 500.
Following this, KSS locked the entry gate of the temple and staged protest in front of it. The district administration had put the implementation of the hike on hold for a month and had assured them to look into the matter.
As the administration did not hold any discussion and reintroduced the entry fee hike, we decided to sit on a dharna, a member of KSS said.
The temple doesn’t have adequate facilities like drinking water among other things. We demand free entry to the temple on a particular day, he added.
“We will continue with the protest till our demands are met,” threatened Badal Das, convenor of Konark Suraksha Samiti.
The shops and other establishments downed their shutters in the town following the bandh call by KSS.
On the other hand, domestic and foreign tourists had to return disappointed as they were not allowed to enter the World Heritage Monument.
“We have come all the way from Rajasthan to see the famous Konark temple. But, the gates have been closed for entry fee hike. As we have come from such a long distance, we will be waiting for some more time for gates to reopen otherwise we would be leaving without having the opportunity to see it,” a tourist said.