Bhubaneswar: Illegal encroachments in front of Lingaraj Temple here were demolished amid tight security on Monday.
It is part of the beautification drive being undertaken by the Odisha government around the 11th century shrine.
According to sources, unauthorised structures from Singhadwara to Bhajan Mandap and Sub-station will be cleared. Besides removing the encroachments, steps would be taken for preservation of heritage sites and water bodies – Bindusagar, Marichi Kunda and Ganga Jamuna.
A Rs 700-crore package is also being prepared for the redevelopment of the Temple and its surroundings in the Old Town area. Chief minister Naveen Patnaik is expected to announce the package by December 25, the Times of India reported.
The structures in front of the main entrance to the temple, which includes the Lingaraj police station and the temple administration office, will be removed in the initial phase to allow easy passage to visitors, the report added.
Notably, many government and temple lands around the shrine have been encroached by local businessmen and makeshift vendors, leading to traffic bottlenecks.
On December 5, Secretary to Chief Minister for Transformation and Initiatives (5T) VK Pandian and Works Secretary Krishan Kumar had visited Lingaraj Temple early in the morning to review the redevelopment and beautification work in the area surrounding it.
Bhubaneswar Development Authority and Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation officials had earlier carried out land demarcation to identify government, private and temple land with the help of temple administration. The encroachments around the temple identified during the survey would be subsequently removed for widening of roads and creation of more public space, the officials had earlier said, adding that the government may also acquire private land in the area for this purpose if required.
An unsafe market complex located near the shrine was recently demolished by the administration.
While the state government has announced to clear encroachments within 75-metre radius of Puri Jagannath Temple to create a heritage security zone, no such decision has been taken with regards to this temple in Bhubaneswar.