The Shree Jagannath Temple Management Committee has approved a Rs 800-crore heritage corridor project aimed at redeveloping the 12th century shrine's surrounding areas, sources said on Tuesday.
The committee, during a meeting chaired by Gajapati Maharaha of Puri Divyasingha Deb, approved the proposal for the Shree Jagannath Heritage Corridor (SJHC) project by the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA), on Monday.
The SJTA will seek approval of the National Monuments Authority (NMA), Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the Puri-Konark Development Authority (PKDA) before starting work from June 1.
The project includes plans to beautify and develop the 75-metre corridor around the temple's boundary walks (meghanada pacheri), set up the Shree Jagannath Reception Centre and conserve temples in various mutts linked with rituals, officials said.
They said the mutts were earlier demolished by the district administration to create open spaces around the temple to develop the heritage corridor.
The SJHC project will be undertaken under the Augmentation of Basic Amenities & Development of Heritage & Architecture at Puri (ABADHA) scheme, which was approved by the state cabinet in 2019.
The scheme envisages to make Puri a world-class tourist and religious centre at an expenditure of Rs 3,200 crore.
The heritage corridor is targeted to be completed by February 2022, SJTA chief administrator Krishan Kumar told reporters here.
The project aims at providing an expansive and unobstructed path around the 'meghanada pacheri', dividing the corridor into nine layers.
The heritage corridor project was approved days after the Centre withdrew its notification for the draft heritage bylaws for Puri's Shree Jagannath Temple.
Noting that as many as 50 meetings with experts were held before approval of the project, Kumar said as per plans, 55-metre stretch of the 75-metre corridor from the temple boundary will be declared no-parking and no-vehicle movement zone.
Battery-run vehicles will be introduced on the stretch for devotees to commute to the shrine free of cost.
The Shree Jagannath Reception Centre with a capacity of 6,000 devotees will be built in an open space for queue management.
A luggage scanning system, cloakroom for keeping belongings, drinking water facilities and washrooms are some of the other features of the heritage corridor, he said.
A book shop will also come up at the reception centre that will provide souvenirs and journals to devotees, Kumar added.