VVIP enclosure on unsafe Puri buildings raises concern

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Debabrata Mohapatra,TNN | Jul 9, 2015

BHUBANESWAR: In a move that has raised quite a few eyebrows, the Puri district administration is making a VVIP enclosure on the top of two private buildings, which were recently declared unsafe by the government.

On May 26, the works department had declared 16 buildings in the town "unsafe" and urged the district administration to seal them. However, the administration decided not to seal two of the structures — Nagananguli mutt (close to district information centre near the temple) and Radha Ballav mutt (in front of temple). Instead, it is making seating arrangements for VVIPs on the roofs of the two buildings.

"We will seal some unsafe buildings on Thursday. But we are not going to seal Nagananguli and Radha Ballav mutts. Efforts are on to renovate the structures so that VVIPs can sit there and witness the car festival," Ashish Kumar Nayak, assistant executive engineer told TOI.

Asked why the administration is not making efforts to repair and strengthen other unsafe structures to help general public sit and watch the festival, Nayak said, "We are just carrying out the order of our seniors."

Sources said the roof top of Nagananguli mutt would be used as a "viewpoint" for chief minister Naveen Patnaik and his ministers. Till last year, the CM and other dignitaries used to sit on the terrace of the district information centre. However, the centre will be demolished in a few days for smooth movement of chariots.

The Odisha State Disaster Management Authority, which prepared a standard operating procedure for the mega event, has already asked the works department to keep a close watch on the dilapidated buildings on the Grand Road.

"Puri, being an old city, is home to many dilapidated buildings. The huge congregation of people during Rath Yatra means there is every chance these unsafe buildings will be used as accommodation or viewpoints. The load bearing capacity of the buildings, particularly the old ones, needs to be assessed for overall safety of devotees," the report said.

Source: timesofindia

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