Bhubaneswar: Faced with stiff opposition from different quarters including Shankaracharya of Govardhan Peeth, Swami Nischalananda Saraswati, Odisha Government Friday dropped its plan to allow operation of beach shacks along the coast between Puri and Konark.
This was revealed by Puri District Collector Samarth Verma after meeting a BJP delegation led by local MLA Jayant Sarangi here. The State Government has decided to drop the project of opening beach shacks at Puri, he said.
“Puri is a heritage city and it has spiritual significance. We will try to develop it in that way only,” Verma said, adding that the government will not take any step that will negatively impact the heritage city of Puri.
The state government through Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) had sought applications from interested parties to open such five beach sacks in Puri and Gopalpur. Friday was the last date of receiving the application.
The state government, however, changed its decision after Puri seer Swami Nischalananda Saraswati joined about 50 different organizations in opposing the plan to set up beach shacks along the shores of Puri and Konark where liquor will also be served to tourists.
The liquor was proposed to be served in the beach shacks under Odisha Excise Policy, 2021. A large number of people including local residents of Puri have voiced concern over the government’s plan and demanded immediate stop of the tender seeking setting up of beach shacks.
“Shree Jagannath Dham in Puri is the seat of spiritual and religious soul-searching. Under no circumstances, liquor and other form of alcoholic beverages should be allowed on Puri beach,” the seer said on Thursday while expressing displeasure over such a move by the state government.
“I have all along demanded that the three-kilometre stretch on the Puri beach should be a place of bhajan, kirtan and arati. This proposal of the government in Puri beach is not acceptable,” the Shankaracharya said.
A delegation of the social outfit had also met Puri Collector Samarth Verma on Thursday and demanded roll back of the beach shacks’ plan at beaches in the guise of tourism development in Puri district.
Several women activists have also raised concern over the state’s plan and claimed that this would instigate crime against women in Odisha.
Earlier, in a bid to promote beach tourism, the state government through Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) has invited bids for setting up beach shacks along the coastline, initially from Puri to Konark.
The OTDC also has plans to open counters at beaches on Puri-Konark marine drive offering tourists to enjoy beverages including liquor, along with music on the lines of Goa