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Oil major to take up Konark job

Bhubaneswar, July 26: A non-profit trust floated by Indian Oil Corporation Limited will take up peripheral development of the famous 13th century Sun Temple at Konark. The Indian Oil Foundation will spend nearly Rs 40 crore on the project.

Official sources said nearly 55.68 acres had been identified for the purpose. As part of the plan, a modern complex dedicated to the development of tourist facilities would be built.

Major components of the project include construction of a parking centre on 11 acres and a drop point on three acres. There would also be a provision for sit-outs, facilities for a light -and- sound programme, a cafeteria, souvenir stall and public lavatories.

“The tourists will be briefed about the temple and shown video footages depicting its great architectural works. They will not have to depend on guides,” said an official of the foundation.

They said steps would be taken to clear encroachments around the temple and the road leading to the edifice would be widened.

Union minister for petroleum and natural gas M. Veerappa Moilly and chief minister Naveen Patnaik are scheduled to lay the foundation stone for the centre on Sunday. Union minister for chemicals and fertilisers Srikant Jena, Union minister for culture Chandresh Kumari Katoch, minister of state for petroleum and natural gas Panabaka Lakshmi, Indian Oil Corporation chairman R.S. Butola and other dignitaries will attend the ceremony.

The oil major had formed Indian Oil Foundation in collaboration with the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) and National Culture Fund of the Union ministry to protect monuments across India. It has already initiated steps to protect Qutab Minar in Delhi, Khajuraho temple in Madhya Pradesh, Kanheri caves in Maharashtra, Hampi complex in Karnataka and Warangal Fort in Andhra Pradesh.

In a related development, the Konark Surkshya Samiti today started an indefinite dharna demanding more focus on preservation and conservation of the temple.

Samiti president Surendra Mishra said: “The ASI is ignoring the temple’s safety. The world-famous heritage site has started losing its beauty. No repair work is being undertaken at the site as per recommendations of the expert team. The local office is engaging unskilled persons for preservation of the temple.”

Mishra said the local ASI office had bought iron scaffold of poor quality and put it around the temple, which had scarred the beauty of the temple. “Since dignitaries are coming to Konark on Sunday, we have started the dharna to highlight the issue,” he said, adding that the Centre should appoint an engineer at the local ASI office to look into the issue.

The samiti also demanded that on one day of the week, particularly Saturday, local people should not be asked to pay entry fee of Rs 10. “Every Saturday, locals come to the temple to worship the Nabagraha (nine planets). They should be allowed into the temple without paying anything,” he said.