Oppn seeks reply from Odisha govt over Lords’ money parked in Yes Bank

Bhubaneswar: Questioning the Odisha government’s silence over the parking of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration’s (SJTA) donation money at Yes Bank, senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra today alleged that the decision was taken while keeping the government in the loop. “As the State government was aware of the SJTA’s move to park the donation amount at Yes Bank, it is not issuing any statement in connection with this,” said Bijoy.

He further informed that the Comptroller and Auditor General had told the government about irregularities in the Srimandir funds in 2015. “Despite being aware about the matter, the government remained a silent spectator,” alleged Bijoy.

Puri king Gajapati Dibyasingh Deb and the temple management committee were not informed about the decision of keeping the donation money at the private bank. He claimed that some members of the management committee and two government employees were involved in the irregularities.

Toeing similar lines, senior Congress leader Narasingh Mishra said the State government must make all efforts to bring back the Sri Jagannath’s money.

“Writing a letter to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will not serve the purpose. People of the State and Jagannath devotees have been raising doubts over the safety of the Srimandir property. Be it Ratna Bhadnar or donation money of the Srimandir, questions are being raised about the property’s safe keeping,” said Narasingh.

Odisha Finance Minister Niranjan Pujari has already written to the Union Finance Minister urging the latter for release of Rs 545 crore deposited by the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration.

Urging Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to direct the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to allow the release of Rs 545 crore of Srimandir kept at Yes Bank, OPCC chief Niranjan Patnaik wrote a letter to her. The letterstated Sri Jagannath Temple carries a lot of significance for Hindus and has been managed by the SJTA as per the suggestions of the Temple Managing Committee.

Reacting to the charges, BJD spokesperson and the party’s Rajya Sabha nominee Subhas Singh said: “The BJP leaders are trying to mislead people over the matter. It is an old habit of Mohapatra to politicise issues related to the Lord Jagannath Temple.”

“When the Union Finance minister and the RBI say that depositors money is safe in Yes Bank, why are the state BJP leaders misleading people,” Singh added.

Worth mentioning, the Srimandir’s foundation fund, corpus fund and temple fund totaling Rs 545 crore has been kept at Yes Bank as Term Deposit Receipt. The maturity of the TDR is in March. However, due to restrictions imposed by the apex bank the temple administration could not withdraw the donation amount, the letter added.

In his reaction, Odisha Finance Secretary Ashok Meena said temple administration and State government officials have spoken to RBI officials in connection with this. “The apex bank has assured us that the donation money parked at Yes Bank is safe,” he added.

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