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Odisha govt's beach shacks plan in Puri faces local ire by seer, social outfits

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Puri, July 30: Shankaracharya of Puri, Swami Nischalananda Saraswati joined about 50 different organizations in opposing the Odisha government''s plan to set up beach shacks along the shores of Puri and Konark where liquor will also be served to tourists.

Odisha govts beach shacks plan in Puri faces local ire by seer, social outfits

The liquor will be served in the proposed beach shacks under Odisha Excise Policy, 2021. A large number of people including local residents of Puri have voiced concern over the government''s plan and demanded immediate stop of the tender seeking setting up of beach shacks.

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"Shree Jagannath Dham in Puri is the seat of spiritual and religious soul-searching. Under no circumstances, liquor and other form of alcoholic beverages should be allowed on Puri beach," the seer said on Thursday while expressing displeasure over such a move by the state government.

"I have all along demanded that the three-kilometre stretch on the Puri beach should be a place of bhajan, kirtan and arati. This proposal of the government in Puri beach is not acceptable," the shankaracharya said.

Meanwhile, a delegation of the social outfit met Puri Collector Samarth Verma and demanded roll back of the 'beach shacks' plan at beaches in the guise of tourism development in Puri district.

Several women activists have also raised concern over the state''s plan and claimed that this would instigate crime against women in Odisha.

"We will consider several angles before taking any decision in this regard. It is in a proposal stage," Verma told reporters.

Earlier, in a bid to promote beach tourism, the state government through Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) has invited bids for setting up beach shacks along the coastline, initially from Puri to Konark.

The OTDC also has plans to open counters at beaches on Puri-Konark marine drive offering tourists to enjoy beverages including liquor, along with music on the lines of Goa.

The OTDC has invited online applications for the operation of beach shacks and Friday is the last date for filing applications.

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