Odisha: SOP finalized for opening Sri Mandir Ratna Bhandar

Puri: The newly formed Managing Committee of Sri Jagannath Temple in its second meeting today discussed about the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to be adopted at the time of opening of Ratna Bhandar (store house of ornaments and valuables) for inspection by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) experts to examine its structural stability.

However, the date on which Ratna Bhandar will be opened will be decided at the meeting of the Chhatisa Nijog (apex body of temple servitors) scheduled for tomorrow.

According to one of the conditions laid down in the permission given by the State government’s Law Department to the Sri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) for opening Ratna Bhandar-the temple administration will maintain a list with name and address details of those entering it.

They will be frisked and scanned both at the time of entry as well as exit while the entire process will be videographed for record purpose.

The State government had yesterday granted permission to SJTA for opening of Ratna Bhandar.

Those entering the Ratna Bhandar will not be allowed to carry any metal, valuables or electronic device.

Further, they will be provided with clothes (gamcha) by the temple administration before entering Ratna Bhandar.

“Adequate measures will be undertaken for frisking and scanning of those who will be entering the Ratna Bhandar. They will be subjected to frisking both at the time of entry and exit as well. They will not be allowed to carry any of their personal belongings inside the Ratna Bhandar, not even clothes. We will provide them with gamchas. No metal or electronic device can be carried inside. The entire inspection proceeding will be videographed which will be preserved by the temple administration for future purpose,” informed SJTA Chief Administrator Pradip Kumar Jena to reporters after the temple’s managing committee meeting.

“We will try to see that nothing other than the walls and roof is inspected. Nothing other than that will be allowed to be recorded or touched. Those who will enter the Ratna Bhandar will only conduct a visual inspection but will not touch any of the thing or things kept inside,” he added.

The SJTA Chief Administrator reiterated that after the Chhatisa Nijog meeting tomorrow an office order giving details of names of officials and other individuals who will enter the Ratna Bhandar and the date on which it will be opened will be finalized.

The temple’s managing committee chaired by Puri king Gajapati Dibya Singha Deb today approved an annual budget of Rs 169.50 crore for the year 2018-19. Allocation of Rs 5 crore each was made for Gurukula Ashram School for children from sevayat families and housing project for the sevayats in the budget.

Notably, the Orissa High Court on March 22 had ordered the ASI to inspect the structural condition of the Ratna Bhandar on March 26 and 27 and submit a status report on March 29.

The High Court’s directive had come in response to an affidavit filed by the SJTA Chief citing that inspection of the Ratna Bhandar was necessary before reopening of Jagamohana for the public.

The ASI which had undertaken repair and conservation work of the Jagamohana has informed the court that repair work has been completed and had prayed the High Court to open it for the devotees.

A five-member team of ASI officials on Monday had inspected the status of the Ratna Bhandar from outside, in line with the instruction of the High Court, and had said that the outer portion is in good condition.

It’s worth mentioning here that the High Court is monitoring the repair work of the Sri Mandir in response to a PIL seeking judicial intervention for repair and renovation of the temple.




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