25 Oct 2008, 2303 hrs IST, IANS
BHUBANESWAR: The Orissa government on Saturday changed its stance and said it will rebuild churches damaged in Kandhamal district during the communal violence that killed 37 people and rendered thousands homeless.
"The state government has asked the district administration to submit a report on the church damage within a fortnight," home secretary T.K. Mishra told reporters.
The state government earlier this week had rejected Bhubaneswar-Cuttack archbishop Raphael Cheenath's demand for a Rs.30 million assistance for the reconstruction of damaged and demolished churches saying that giving grants to religious places was against its secular ethos.
The change of stance came after the Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the state to "take a generous view" of the matter.
The court had asked the government to identify the damaged churches, assess the extent of the damage and take steps towards rebuilding them.
Kandhamal district witnessed communal violence following the killing of a Hindu leader and four of his aides Aug 23 in his Ashram at Jaleshpata.
Officials on Saturday said normalcy was returning to the region as there was no major violence there since September 30.