MLAs protest exclusion of Odisha spots from Iconic Sites


The non-inclusion of tourist spots of Odisha in the list of 17 Iconic Sites across the country to be developed by the Centre came up for discussion in the state Assembly on Thursday.

While ruling BJD and opposition Congress members protested against the absence of Odisha sites in the list as “iconic neglect” towards the state, BJP MLAs did not take part in the discussion.

Raising the issue at Zero Hour, senior BJD MLA Pradeep Maharathy said, “How can anyone exclude the Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri and the Sun Temple in Konark from the list? We demand that the Centre include at least these two sites in the list of icnonic sites.”

BJD MLA Pramod Mallick dubbed the absence of any of Odisha’s sites as “iconic neglect” by the Centre.

“The Konark temple is one among the Seven Wonders of India. How can the Centre exclude Konark while preparing the list of Iconic Tourism Sites?” BJD MLA Bhupinder Singh said.

He said a resolution should be passed in the Assembly for making state’s demand.

Supporting the ruling BJD members’ views, Congress MLA Taraprasad Bahinipati said, “Its a pure case negligence towards Odisha by the central government.”

An all-party delegation should meet the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to place Odisha’s demand, he said.

The BJD’s Amar Prasad Satpathy, Debi Prasad Mishra, Arabinda Dhali, Ananta Das, and S S Saluja of the Congress also spoke on the issue.

BJP MLAs, however, were silent during the discussion.

Earlier, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in a letter to Union Tourism Minister Prahlad Singh Patel, had demanded inclusion of at least two Odisha sites in the list.

During her maiden Budget speech last Friday, Sitharaman had said 17 model sites chosen by the Centre would be developed into world-class destinations to encourage tourist arrival. She, however, did not elaborate which are the chosen sites.

In March 2018, then Union tourism minister K J Alphons had told the Lok Sabha that the sites include the Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri (Uttar Pradesh), Ajanta and Ellora caves (Maharashtra), Humayun’s Tomb, Qutub Minar and Red Fort (Delhi) and Colva Beach (Goa).

The other tourism spots are Amber Fort (Rajasthan), Somnath and Dholavira (Gujarat), Khajuraho (Madhya Pradesh), Hampi (Karnataka), Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu), Kaziranga (Assam), Kumarakom (Kerala) and Mahabodhi Temple (Bihar).

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