Bhubaneswar: At a time when the BJD and the BJP have locked horns debating over the legality of the Shree Jagannath Temple Heritage Corridor Project in Odisha’s Puri, a ‘No Objection’ letter of the National Monuments Authority (NMA) has seemingly tilted the balance in the favour of the BJD-led state government.
The reply letter by the NMA dated 4.9.2021 pertains to the NOC application of the Chief Administrator of the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration for construction, repair and renovation in the prohibited/ regulated area of the temple under the Srimandir Parikrama Project.
The NMA in the letter said it has ‘No Objection’ for construction of Cloak Room, Mini Cloak Room, Shelter Pavilion, Female Toilet, Male Toilet, Sevayat Toilet, Electrical Room and Pavement area.
“After examination of the case, it is stated that the Authority has ‘No Objection’ under assurance of strict compliance of AMASR Act, 1958, Section 2, to the execution of the following works in the prohibited area namely Cloak Room, Mini Cloak Room, Shelter pavilion, Female Toilet, Male Toilet, Sevayat Toilet, Electrical Room, and Pavement area, including a place to stand in queue for toilets and reaching sanctum sanctorum that are permitted under the exception clause to the definition of ‘Construction’ as given in the above mentioned section,” the NMA said in the letter.
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 by the Odisha Government.
“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.
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.