Notwithstanding their rich heritage, many temples here are lying uncared for. The basic requirement of lights is non-existent in several temples in the Old Town area.
There are no lighting arrangements in several protected and unprotected temples which make them safe havens for criminal elements. Even as there are halogen lights in some, they have been rendered defunct in the absence of maintenance or are not put to use as they heat up the structures.
Time and again, there have been complaints about stealing of sculptures from temple premises in the Old Town area. But the State Archeology and Archeological Survey of India (ASI) have been turning a blind eye to the problem for years.
Apparently, although plans have been made in the past to put up dynamic lighting systems in certain temples for security purposes and boosting their tourism value, there is no government agency to take care of the energy bills.
An official in the Tourism Department said plans were made two years back to put up special lighting arrangements at eight major temples in the Old Town, managed by ASI, but the latter did not come forward to bear the energy expenses. The funds for the illumination project were to be provided by the Centre under the Mega Project Scheme for the development of Bhubaneswar-Puri-Chilika tourism sector. “Illumination of monuments requires regular maintenance including payment of electricity bills. Funds are never a constraint, but the main problem with the lighting arrangement at temples is that no one is ready to bear the electricity expenses, not even the ASI for the temples under it. As a result, you can find miscreants misusing temple premises in the night,” the official said.
At present, plans are again being made by the Tourism Department to put up light-emitting diode (LED) lights in five temples _ Lingaraj temple and Mukteswar, Rajarani, Parsurameswar and Rameswar _ in the City this year. On Saturday, a meeting was held by the department officials to decide upon floating of tenders for LED illumination of the five temples. Senior engineer of the Tourism Department, J K Das, said LED lights will consume 80 per cent less electricity and the maintenance cost will thus be minimal. The LED lighting will also ensure that there is less heating of the heritage structures.
“We will float tenders for the purpose within a week,” he said. However, this time too it remains undecided as to who will pay the electricity charges. At Lingaraj temple, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) will bear the LED lighting expense and the energy charges by the Lingaraj Temple Trust.