Security tightened in Puri for heritage corridor project inauguration on January 17

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Shree Mandira Parikrama Project, a massive periphery redevelopment of the famous Jagannath temple, is poised to be unveiled on January 17.

Shree Mandira Parikrama Project, a massive periphery redevelopment of the famous Jagannath temple, is poised to be unveiled on January 17.
| Photo Credit: The Hindu

Anticipating a huge turnout of around five lakh devotees, five-layer security arrangements have been put in place in Puri, akin to measures taken during the annual Rath Yatra, for the inauguration of the temple heritage corridor project on January 17, officials said.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is scheduled to inaugurate the Shree Mandira Parikrama Project (SMPP) or heritage corridor project, a periphery redevelopment project of the renowned Jagannath temple in Puri. However, rituals for the mega event have already begun from Friday evening (January 12.)

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Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) chief administrator Ranjan Kumar Das said a large number of dignitaries, including Ministers, political leaders and ‘saints’ are likely to attend the event.

“Expecting a heavy rush to the temple town, a strict vigil is being kept across the coastal town, at the 12th century shrine and the beach area,” officials said.

“According to a senior police officer, the temple and the town will be under a five-layer security blanket for the mega event. Rath Yatra-like security arrangements have been made in Puri,” he said.

IG (central range) Ashish Singh and Puri Superintendent of Police Kanwar Vishal Singh on Friday briefed the police officers about their duties and responsibilities.

A large number of security personnel will be deployed in and around the temple, while special security coverage will be provided to the VVIPs. Indian Coast Guard and Marine Police will guard the sea front while hundreds of lifeguards will be stationed at the designated bathing points along the beach.

“Police help desks will be opened at various locations on the Bhubaneswar-Puri highway, and police escorts will be provided to distinguished invitees during their visit to the temple,” an official said.

More than 44 platoons of police (with one platoon comprising 30 personnel) have been deployed to provide security, maintain law and order and manage traffic in the town from January 12 to 16, the IG said, adding 45 police officers will supervise the arrangements.

“Security personnel have been deployed inside the temple to ensure smooth ‘darshan’ while an adequate number of personnel will also be deployed at the four gates of the temple,” he said.

Mr. Singh said that 135 CCTVs with face-reading technology have been installed around the corridor and a control room has been set up and immediate action will be taken if any suspicious activity is detected.

The IG said security will be further tightened with the deployment of an additional 20 platoons of personnel and additional officers on January 17. “Besides, some restrictions will be imposed on movement of traffic on that day,” he said.

Puri SP Kanwar Vishal Singh said vehicle parking arrangements will be made at Samang, Malatipatpur Bus Stand, Jail Road Multi-level Parking Complex, Yatrika, and Jagannath Ballav parking lots.

The ₹800-crore project will ensure expansive, unobstructed corridors around the Meghanada Pacheri of the temple and will provide the devotees excellent visual connection with the 12th century shrine.

“It will also provide amenities to the pilgrims and strengthen the safety and security of the temple and devotees. The project is one component of a massive initiative worth more than ₹4,000 crore to transform Puri into a world heritage city,” another official said.

To ensure an active participation of people from all parts of the State, the government has rolled out Shree Mandir Parikrama Rath (Arpan Rath) in all panchayats to collect handfuls of rice and betel nuts from households. These will be used during rituals for the inauguration of the project.

According to Suresh Chandra Mahapatra, advisor to the Chief Minister, 60 buses would be initially deployed to ensure smooth transportation of devotees from different far-off places to Puri. The Lokarpan Yajna for the project is scheduled to be performed from January 15 to 17, with Vedic recitations at the four gates of the temple.

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