By Bizodisha Bureau, September 2, 2019: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday announced a special relief and rehabilitation package for the residents of Puri to be displaced by the ongoing eviction drive around Jagannath temple.

The government has been carrying eviction of a number of residential houses, commercial establishments, shops, lodgings and mutts since August 19 for creation of a security zone within 75-metre radius of the 12th-century shrine.

For each displaced family, the state government has offered Rs 30 lakh onetime resettlement assistance or 520 sq ft house within 1.5 km of temple or 1,000 sq ft land from 2 km distance of the temple. Those, who wait till allotment of the promised houses, will be paid Rs 10,000 house rent assistance every month. “The affected families may choose any one of the three rehabilitation packages. Those, who avail the onetime Rs 30 lakh package, will not be eligible for house rent assistance and houses,” the chief minister said.

The chief minister’s office said the special relief and rehabilitation package has been announced in addition to the normal financial benefit availed under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. Naveen, who recently appealed to the affected people to sacrifice their properties for the sake of Jagannath temple’s security, said if the affected persons hand over their property for acquisition within 30 days of notification, they will get additional 10% incentive on cash benefits under the policy.

An official statement from the CM’s office made it very clear that there would not be any compromise on the security of the famed heritage site that apart from the rehabilitation package, a special financial package has been devised to take care of all categories of affected people to develop Puri as a world class heritage city, the statement added.

For the displaced shopkeepers, the government has offered Rs 50,000 immediate assistance for transport and shifting of their materials. Besides, the government has given them two options to select one. Either the shopkeepers will be rehabilitated in different market complexes with the help of the district collector or they receive monthly rent by setting up their own shops elsewhere. Rs 5,000 monthly rent will be given to shops built on less than 200 sq ft, Rs 10,000 rent to shops between 200 and 500 sq ft and Rs 15,000 rent to shops built on over 500 sq ft area. Displaced small roadside vendors will be given Rs 30,000 onetime assistance. Besides, the district collector will earmark space for the displaced vendors to do business.

Each demolished lodge, built on more than 3000 sq ft and less than 3,000 sq ft will be given immediate assistance of Rs 10 lakh and Rs 5 lakh compensations, respectively. Besides, each lodge will be given Rs 25 per sq ft every month for one and a half years. Those lodge owners, who do not want financial assistance, will be given suitable land of different measurements within 300 metres on both sides of the Grand Road in Puri.

The Puri district collector has been asked to discuss with concerned mutt authorities and take steps to rebuild the mutts that bear special identities, Patanik said adding that during reconstruction of the mutts, the administration will take utmost care to preserve the mutt culture and heritage and retain their historical and religious significance.

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