Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 17:
With the Nabakalebara Rath Yatra scheduled tomorrow, the Centre has played foul with the sentiments of the Odias since it has fulfilled very few of the long list of promises ranging from infrastructure development to branding of Nabakalebara of Lord Jagannath at the international level announced by Central ministers.
The list of promises made by Central Ministers had at a point of time given one and all an impression that these ministers were really serious about the Lord’s Nabakalebara.
In March, the Union Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma had reviewed work related to Nabakalebara at New Delhi. Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and officials of the Culture department were present in it. At the end of the meeting, it was announced that Tourism Ministry. in coordination with the Petroleum Ministry, shall take several measures for international branding and promotion of the Nabakalebar Rath Yatra. While Tourism Ministry will be responsible for it, the Petroleum Ministry will provide the assistance. Moreover, it was also decided to take assistance of the Information & Broadcasting Ministry for greater publicity and promotion of Nabakalebara. It was also decided that the Ministry of Culture will bring out a Coffee Table Book on Nabakalebara.
Same promises were reiterated at a review meeting held eight days later at the state secretariat here.
But a day ahead of the Rath Yatra, neither has Nabakalebara’s international branding been nor the promised coffee table book published. Nabakalebara’s promotion and publicity was limited to insertion of two to three ads in the ‘Incredible India’ or ‘Atulya Bharat’ campaign of the Ministry of Tourism. It’s yet to be known in which national and international magazines was the event publicized.
The Centre had announced that commemorative coins will be issued for the Nabakalebara Rath Yatra. A committee even prepared the design of the commemorative coins. It was said that Union Finance Minister would release it at New Delhi, but finally it never happened. No one has a reply why it never happened or what went wrong.
It was announced that beautification of the surroundings of Sun Temple at Konark undertaken by the Indian Oil Corporation will be completed before Nabakalebara. But the progress has been so tardy that it’s doubtful if it will be completed in the near future. During a recent visit to Konark, an embarrassed Dharmendar Pradhan had to beg apology from the people of the state for the lack if progress in the beautification project.
The Central government provided financial assistance for three light and sound show projects in the state. The Central and state governments inked agreements in this regard in October. Central government officials had then said that the three projects will be operational much ahead of Nabakalebara.
While the Dhauli project is now more or less complete, work on the Konark project is nowhere near completion and the Khandagiri project is yet to take off.
Though beautification of Konark and the three light and sound show projects are old projects, in linking these projects with Nabakalebara, the Centre had attempted to take mileage for itself out of it. State BJP leaders too had lost no opportunity to publicize these with a view to reap benefits while failing to take steps for accelerating work on the project.
Puri, among other religious places, was included in the Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) scheme and Rs 50 crore was sanctioned under it. Though it had nothing to do with Nabakalebara, attempts were made by Central ministers on several occasions to pass it on as Central assistance for Nabakalebara. The fact that the state government has received only Rs 10 crore out of this Rs 50 crore till date proves that it certainly was not assistance for Nabakalebara.
Central ministers have dedicated three projects to the nation. While the national highway remains to be completed, the projects connected with the Railways too cannot be called as completed.
Surprisingly enough, BJD, the ruling party here, which used to shout about Centre’s negligence at the drop of a hat during the UPA regime, is mysteriously silent over the Centre’s neglect which is visible to the common man on the street.