BHUBANESWAR: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the Odisha government to rehabilitate at least 40 landless scheduled caste families living around Jagannath Ballabh Mutt close to the 12th century Jagannath temple.
Responding to a petition by rights activist Akhand, the apex rights panel asked the Puri district collector to suitably rehabilitate them in the event they are evicted for heritage corridor project in the pilgrim town. The deputy registrar (law) of the NHRC in a direction issued to the Collector sought for the compliance of the order within two months.
The Shree Jagannath Temple Management Committee during February last had approved Rs 800-crore heritage corridor project for the redevelopment of the 12th century shrine’s surrounding areas. The dalit families have become apprehensive of getting evicted from their place of habitation as the authorities gear up to implement the heritage corridor project.
“These families have been residing in the premises of Jagannath Ballabha Mutt since very long. They perform various services like sweeping the temple premises, collecting flowers and tulsi for deities, providing woods for kitchen, protecting and maintaining the garden of the Mutt and safety of the Matha. They have some special service for Lord Jagannath Temple also especially during the Rath Yatra festival”, the petition moved by Akhand maintained.
The heritage corridor project includes among other things Srimandir reception centre, Jagannath cultural centre including Raghunandan library, integrated command and control centre, Badadanda heritage streetscape, Srimandir amenities improvement, Sri Setu, Jagannath Ballav pilgrim centre, multilevel car parking, municipal market development, Swargdwar development, Pramod Udyan, Gurukulam, Mahodadhi market, beach front development, Puri lake, Musa river revival plan, Atharnala and housing for sevayats.