SAMBALPUR: A high-level team of the State government comprising Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mohapatra and 5T Secretary VK Pandian reviewed progress of the Samaleswari Temple Area Management and Local Economy Initiatives (SAMALEI) scheme here on Monday.
The team, which also included Works Secretary Vir Vikram Yadav and Chief Minister’s Special Secretary R Vineel Krishna, visited Samaleswari temple in the morning to take stock of the ongoing works. Later, a review meeting was held with officials of Odisha Bridge and Construction Corporation (OBCC) which is executing the scheme. The team also held discussion with the Samaleswari temple trust board.
Currently, the district administration is acquiring land for implementation of the scheme which envisages beautification and development of the 16th century shrine. A number of government quarters in the area have been demolished and many illegal encroachment evicted. Negotiation with the owners of private property is underway.
An official of OBCC said once the administration completes land acquisition process and demarcates the area over which the project will be implemented, the corporation will sign agreement with the selected firm and start work.
The project, which will be implemented at a cost of around `250 crore, includes beautification of the temple, development of a heritage corridor, state-of-the-art amenities for pilgrims and improved access to the shrine. Development of Mahanadi river front is also part of the project.
On the day, the team visited Mahanadi river view point and Durgapali area where people will be displaced for implementation of SAMALEI scheme. The officials directed the administration to ensure proper rehabilitation of the project-affected people.
Over 200 families living near the temple since decades including residents of the century-old slum Ghunghutipara will be affected due to the project. These people have been opposing the shrine development project over displacement fears and demanding better rehabilitation package. Among others, Revenue Divisional Commissioner (North) Suresh Chandra Dalai, Northern Range IG Deepak Kumar, Sambalpur Collector Dibya Jyoti Parida and SP B Gangadhar accompanied the team.