Puri Srimandir Parikrama Project: Supreme Court reserves orders for tomorrow

Bhubaneswar: The Supreme Court reserved its orders for tomorrow in the petitions that were filed alleging illegal excavation and construction work by the Odisha Government around the Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri under the Srimandir Parikrama Project.

The petitioners have challenged Orissa High Court’s order refusing to restrain the State Government from carrying out any excavation near the temple.

A vacation bench comprising Justice BR Gavai and Justice Hima Kohli was today hearing the two special leave petitions.

Senior advocate Mahalaxmi Pavani, appearing for one of the petitioners, submitted that as per the Ancient Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act, the State Government needs to obtain an NOC from the competent authority for carrying out works at a protected site. Though the government got an NOC from the National Monuments Authority, the competent authority under the Act to grant the NOC is the Director or Commissioner of Archeology.

Referring to inspection reports, Mahalaxmi Pavani submitted that “irreparable damage” has been caused to the heritage site.

On the other hand, Ashok Kumar Parija, Advocate General of Odisha, submitted that the National Monuments Authority has been notified as the competent authority under the AMASR Act.

The activities undertaken by the State Government do not come within the purview of “construction” as per the Act, he submitted.

Parija said that the State Government is undertaking the activities to provide amenities to the pilgrims.

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