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Bhubaneswar Development Authority goes full steam to restore Sikharchandi hill’s green cover and make it a tourist attraction

Among the hundreds of volunteers who participated in the plantation drive there were several children (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@BDA_BBSR)

The Bhubaneswar Development Authority is leaving no stone unturned for the development and preservation of Sikharchandi hill in the Capital city of Odisha and turning it into a tourist attraction. For this BDA teamed up with Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation and Odisha Forest Department Corporation recently to launch a drive to restore the hill’s green cover.

Calling the initiative Sabuja Pahada or greening hillock, what made it interesting was that it was a unique community afforestation and plantation drive which received overwhelming response and witnessed enthusiastic participation of people numbering in hundreds. The participants were not just from the Capital city but also from nearby areas.

Sharing details about this event, a BDA press release stated that more than 5,000 people from different walks of life and sections of the society planted and adopted around 3,400 saplings. These saplings belong to 27 different species of plants were planted across an area of five acres and included pipal, neem, karanja, arjuna, bakula, rohini, mahogany, red sandal, and others, all of which come under the forest species category.

Flower yielding species like kanchan, akashmali, patuli, champa, and fruit species like custard apple, bel, jackfruit, mango, jamun, and guava were also planted.

Praising the voluntary participation at such a large scale, Suresh Pant, Managing Director, OFDC, said the spontaneous participation of people in such a programme is key to success.

What was indeed heartening to note was that among the volunteers, there were 2,000 school and college students, hundreds of senior citizens and a large number of people who are members of different Resident Welfare Associations, Information Technology company personnel, specially and differently-abled persons, members of market associations, self-help groups, transgender community, religious associations, and non-government organisations. It was significant to note that representatives of many political parties, keeping aside their ideological differences, turned up to participate in this plantation drive.

This round of plantation was the first in the many to follow as BDA plans to plant 18,000 saplings at the hills and its foothills by end of this month. For this the Authority has earmarked a budget of Rs 3.51 crore. To ensure that these saplings survive and thrive, OFDC has taken up the responsibility of their maintenance for five years from the date of plantation.

This initiative which is part of the redevelopment plan of Sikharchandi hill has been undertaken to make it a star tourist attraction. The masterplan for this has been approved by Naveen Patnaik, the Chief Minister in January. This project will cover 54 acres of land that includes the main temple and its surrounding areas.

The presiding deity of Sikharchandi temple on the hill is Maa Sikharchandi and it is said to be associated with Yogini culture. According to legend Lord Ram, Goddess Sita and Lakshman came to this place during their exile. On Lakshman’s bow the image of Maa was drawn and the Goddess appeared and from then she was worshipped. King Patiya built a temple of Maa on the hill for the devotees to worship her.

For developing the area, the project finalised has divided it into four zones. Zone 1 will have a public parking facility, an amusement park for visitors and a developed space for other activities, including basic amenities while Zone 2 will have a view point and a trekking route. The last two zones – 3 and 4 — will be developed for entertainment-based activities along with a community centre.

Other attractions planned include children’s play areas, recreational centre, battery-operated vehicles for specially-abled persons, prasad shops, electric buses to take tourists to the hilltop, separate and dedicated zones for picnickers among others.

All this is expected to cost Rs.30 crores.