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Tulasi Sarovar: Next beauty spot

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 18: The municipal corporation will renovate the 16th century Santh Tulasi Sarovar on the city outskirts to make it a recreational hub.

In 2012, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) had received Rs 50 lakh from the Centre to revive the water body.

“Though we had the money to revive the historic pond, work could not progress for several reasons and last year the contractor said that he was unable to execute the project. Following our request, the Odisha Police Housing and Welfare Corporation Limited has agreed to execute the project,” said municipal commissioner Sanjib Kumar Mishra.

Joint manager of the police housing corporation, Bhubaneswar office, Chandrabhanu Choudhury, said: “We have submitted a preliminary estimate of Rs 50.79 lakh to the BMC to erect a boundary wall, de-silt the pond basin, renovate the banks, build a walking track and set up sitting arrangements around the water body. After the preliminary job is over, the beautification programme will be undertaken.’’

Sources said the BMC had plans to develop the sarovar on a grand scale, similar to the beautification of the famous Bindusagar lake in the Old Town area.

“All depends on fund allocation by the civic body once the initial work is over,’’ said Choudhury.

Environmentalist Bijay Mishra said: “The administration should revive the water bodies as several of them are drying up either due to rapid real-estate development or unplanned urbanisation.”

The Telegraph had in an article on March 23, 2012, (‘Thirsty water bodies wait for drops of care’) focused on the need to revive the historic pond. Apart from drawing tourists by renovating such historic sites, the revival of water bodies plays a vital role in retaining the city’s ground water table that is under threat due to uncontrolled urbanisation.

The legend

The Santh Tulasi Sarovar is also famous for its Beleswar temple of Lord Shiva and the Ram temple.

The two temples and their historic background first came into limelight following the work of historian and writer Prafulla Tripathy.

“Legend says that the sage poet had set up the two temples during his visit to Puri. Both the temples were in bad shape in 1972 when we spotted them near Pahala on the city outskirts. Thereafter, with support from the Odisha State Archaeology, the temples were restored and a local businessman donated the statues of Ram, Laxman and Sita for the Ram temple as the original ones were stolen. A statue of the poet was later installed on the bank of the pond,’’ Tripathy said. However, in the early 90s, a local villager encroached on the water body and the adjacent land near Pahala.

The encroacher did not allow BMC employees or any outsider to step into the area.

The revival plan of the water body was also delayed.

Additional district magistrate and president of the Santh Tulasi Sarovar Trust Manoj Kumar Patnaik said: “We are seriously following the activities of the police housing corporation and I am personally monitoring their day-to-day work so that the construction of the boundary is finished fast.’’ Patnaik also said that in future the district administration would work for the revival of more water bodies in the city.