No permission from ASI for Srimandir Heritage Corridor Project: RTI reply

Bhubaneswar: Amid political war of words over the issue of Shree Jagannath Temple Heritage Corridor Project in Odisha’s Puri, an RTI reply has revealed that Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had not accorded any permission for the project work.

In the RTI application, the applicant had sought copy of the permission letter of the ASI for the constructions.

In the reply dated 25.4.2022, the Bhubaneswar Circle of the ASI said: “No such permission is accorded by the ASI on the construction of Shree Jagannath Heritage Corridor, Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri, Odisha”.

Replying to the RTI application, the ASI also enclosed a letter of proposals submitted by the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) regarding the Shree Mandira Parikrama Project. In the letter, the ASI had sought approval of the ASI for the project.

The ASI in the RTI reply also clarified that no advice/ stipulation/ guideline was issued by it for execution of the project.

Notably, Bhubaneswar MP Aparajita Sarangi had on March 31  raised the matter of Puri Srimandir Heritage Corridor Project in the Lok Sabha and alleged that the construction works are being carried out illegally with violation of norms.

“As per the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act, new construction work within the 100 metres of any historical site is prohibited. However, the Odisha Government is carrying out digging and construction works near the temple,” said Sarangi.

“As per the Act, permission from the National Monuments Authority (NMA) is required for such works whereas no permission has been obtained from NMA in this regard. It is a clear violation of the rules,” she said.

“There are three things which I would like to mention. Firstly, a consultative committee was formed for the project but not a single member from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was included in it. Secondly, no impact assessment study was done. Lastly, the Ground Penetrating Radar Survey was not conducted as well,” she concluded and urged the Union Culture Ministry to intervene in the matter.

Replying to Sarangi, Puri MP Pinaki Misra said, “The works commenced after getting NOC from the National Monuments Authority. The ASI was also involved in it.”

“No digging work is being done. Only construction of four toilets– two for men and two for women– is being carried out. This is being done for the the convenience of women devotees who visit the shrine. The work will have no impact of the temple,” said Misra.

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