By D N Singh
Puri remains a global tourist destination besides being a hub of religious virtues linked to Lord Jagannath. And the demand for an international air-link is old enough aimed to boost up the existing tourism potential.
Present government’s plan to have an international Airport in Puri seems to be running into rough weather after the Seer of Puri Shankaracharya came out to oppose it.
It cannot be contested out-rightly saying that the seer has any shrill logic. He may have some plausible logic as regards the sanctity behind the spiritual angle that it may affect the general feelings among the people who come here solace. But that is a completely different argument to be linked to an airport.
Shankaracharya of Puri, Neeschalananda Saraswati does not find any foresight behind the proposed international airport which, according to him, might vitiate the spiritual and cultural environment of the holy city. “It would be opposed tooth and nail” the seer was quoted to have said.
The sanctity of the place as a pilgrimage would be severely damaged besides, it would substantially destroy the green pastures in the district, the seer of Puri has reportedly stated.
Going a step forward the seer has warned that, “the government should be ready to face the consequences” if it goes ahead with the plan.
Economy Important As Well
But, the fact remains that, if the proposed international airport would vitiate the religious ethos then, should Puri close its door to people who come here from outside India.
It is not merely related to tourism as a whole but the principal factor which is deemed to be indispensable is the local economy. And the holy city’s economy is inseparably linked to tourism and pilgrimage as thousands and thousands of people here look up to tourism as the means of livelihood besides the enormous revenue for the government.
It was the chief minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik who had initiated the idea and had written to the Prime Minister earlier this year for the creation of an international airport obviously with the intention to boost up the arrivals of international tourists.
Perhaps a study has been made by the concerned people from the field regarding the risks attached to airports near to the coasts. And they have had the opinion that the area earmarked for the airport is not that vulnerable to such tidal invasions as had been noticed earlier in some airports in India and a few airports abroad as well.
But, the seer of Puri, who remains uncontested on matters relating to the religious aspects, does not appear to be on a sound footing by his arguments that, inflow of tourists from outside would, in any way, vitiate the sanctity of the holy city and such feelings in people.
About the Author:
DN Singh is a Bhubaneswar-based senior journalist.
This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write up have nothing to do with the www.prameyanews.com