For the first time after taking over as chief minister in May this year, Anandi Patel will visit the famous Somnath temple on Monday and launch the drive of Shree Somnath Trust (SST) to tackle malnourishment in coastal Gir Somnath district.
The CM will fly to Somnath on Monday morning and will dedicate the newly constructed Pravesh Dwar or entry gate near Shankh Circle to the public. The gate has come up around 1.5 km away from the temple which enshrines Lord Somnath, one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. The gate has been constructed at the cost of Rs 1.34 crore by the Trust with the financial help from Gujarat Pavitra Yatradham Vikas Board, a state government body formed to develop pilgrim places in the state.
“Pravesh Dwar has been constructed as part of the programme to beautify Somnath temple complex. It has three passages and the structure has been reinforced by fibreglass,” Pravin Lahri, secretary of Trust told The Indian Express over phone.
The Trust manages and maintains the Somnath temple. Former chief minister Keshubhai Patel is its president.
After dedicating the gate to the public, the CM will perform Sardar Vandana by garlanding statue of Sardar Vallabhabhai Patel, who had taken keen interest in the restoration of the Somnath temple, on the premises of temple. The CM will then launch the drive of the Trust to tackle malnourishment among children in the district, government officials said.
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While launching the drive, the CM would share dais with Keshubhai, but Lehri said no separate meeting was scheduled between SST office-bearers and the CM. Incidentally, Keshubhai had fallen out with the BJP in the run up to the 2012 Assembly elections and had floated new outfit named Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP). However, the GPP flopped in the elections managing to win only two seats and eventually it merged with the BJP early this year.
Under the programme, SST will distribute sukhdi, a sweet dish prepared from wheat flour, jaggery and ghee, among around 42,000 children registered with 1,176 anganwadis in Gir Somnath district.
“Out of the 42,000 children, around 2,000 are malnourished. Out of the 2,000, around 200 are in the red zone, meaning they are extremely malnourished while the remaining 1,800 fall in yellow zone. The sukhdi distribution programme will run for around 100 days. The malnourished children will get sukhdi five days a week while the rest will get the sweet two days a week,” Gir Somnath District Collector Chandubhai Patel said.
This will be for the first time that the Trust will support any health programme of the state government. “In the past, we have extended help to people in times of calamities like drought and earthquake. But sukhdi distribution will be our first initiative targeting health improvement of certain segment of population. Malnourishment is becoming an issue and we decided to contribute towards efforts to tackle it,” Lehri said.
The Trust estimates to distribute 10 tonnes of sukhdi and will spend around Rs 10 lakh over the next three months. “Our caterer will prepare the recipe, pack it and send it to district administration which, in turn, will distribute it among anganwadis,” the trust secretary further said.