West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Wednesday selected a piece of land near Shree Jagannath Temple here for the construction of a Bengal Niwas for visitors from the state to this seaside pilgrim town.
The land at Girala on Puri-Brahmagiri Road is about a 20-minute drive from the 12th-century shrine. She said lakhs of Bengalis visit Puri every year and many of them face problems in finding accommodation. “I have been given the privilege of a state guest and therefore got accommodation, but journalists who came from Bengal on Tuesday faced difficulties. Puri needs more hotels and rooms."
Banerjee, who visited the spot accompanied by Odisha Chief Secretary P K Jena, Puri district collector Samarth Verma and other officers, said she will take up the matter of allocation of land with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
Banerjee will call on Patnaik on Thursday. She, however, refused to take any question on the third front.
Sources said the Odisha government has demarcated a five-acre plot along the beach for the proposed Bengal Niwas. Jena said the Odisha government is yet to decide on the size of land to be given to West Bengal. "Many states including West Bengal will be provided with the land for construction of their guest houses here,” he said.
“I am very happy. I have selected the land for Bengal Niwas and will take up the matter with Naveen ji. We will discuss how much land will be available to us,” Banerjee told reporters after the visit.
The construction work will be taken up very soon after getting the land. "The detailed project report will be made and soil testing conducted as soon as Odisha government allots land to us,” she said. Asked about her choice of land, she said the proposed airport will come up near it and a bridge near it adds to the beauty of the place.
Describing Odisha and Puri in particular as the “sweet home” of Bengalis, she said the people from West Bengal visit Puri multiple times a year. “The people from Bengal come during Ratha Jatra, again during the return car festival and the Snana Jatra. This apart, people also visit this place as tourists. Therefore, Puri is not just the second home, but the sweet home for Bengalis”, she said.
Jena said that the West Bengal chief minister has selected the land and she will talk to her Odisha counterpart on Thursday.Immediately after the site visit, Banerjee left for Shree Jagannath Temple for offering prayer to the sibling deities - Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath.
Replying to a question, the Bengal chief minister said her meeting with Patnaik be a courtesy call. "He had sent a minister to invite her to the Men's World Cup Hockey tournament that was held in January this year. I had then said that I will visit Bhubaneswar and meet him,” Banerjee added.