Home ART & CULTURE Centre dragging feet on funding Odisha light and sound projects

Centre dragging feet on funding Odisha light and sound projects

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jun 10:

The proposed light and sound show at three tourist sites in Odisha– the twin hills of Khandagiri and Udayagiri, the Peace Pagoda at Dhauli and the Konark Sun Temple—have run into rough weather as the Centre is learnt to be dragging its feet from funding these beautification projects.

The White Pagoda at Dhauligiri on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar  commemorates the Kalinga War in 3rd century BC
The White Pagoda at Dhauligiri on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar commemorates the Kalinga War in 3rd century BC

In a written communiqué to the state government, the Centre has asked the former to make alternative arrangements to finance the projects. Though it has not clearly mentioned that it is not going to release the funds, it has said that there is uncertainty over sanctioning of the funds.

“We had received a communiqué from the Centre. The work on these projects won’t be stalled. It would continue and we would meet the expenses from ASP budget,” state Culture and Tourism Minister Ashok Panda said.

While the tender call for Dhauli and Konark projects has been completed and work order issued, the tender for the Udaygiri project has not been invited yet.

Work on the light and sound system at Dhauli is in final stages and is likely to be operational before Nabakalebara. However, the work at the 13th Century World Heritage site at Konark hasn’t started since Archeological Suvey of India (ASI) is yet to give clearance for it.

Last week, a meeting on the issue was held under the chairmanship of chief secretary GC Pati. The department resolved to meet the expenses from its fund in the meantime and continue its efforts to get the funds released by the Centre.

Notably, an MoU was signed between state government and the Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) for the implementation of the project in October last year. The ITDC was entrusted with the responsibility for implementation of these projects as executing agency.

As per the MoU, the estimated cost of the project for Khandagiri-Udayagiri, Dhauli and Konark projects was Rs 6.15 crore, Rs 6.06 crore and Rs 6.56 crore respectively. The Union Tourism ministry had sanctioned Rs 5 crore for each of the projects while the remaining amount was to be borne by the state government.

Out of the sanctioned amount, the Centre has released only Rs 1 crore each for the three projects and there is uncertainty over the remaining Rs 12 crore to be released by it. In the present scenario, the project is unlikely to be completed before Nabakalebara festival scheduled to be held next month.