In a significant development in the controversy surrounding the Puri Srimandir Corridor project, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Monday made it clear before the Orissa High Court that it has not granted any permission to Odisha government to carry out the construction of the heritage venture.
According to sources, the ASI in an affidavit clarified before the High Court bench that it has not given nod for any type of excavation or construction work in the 100 metre prohibited area around the Jagannath Temple as per the guidelines of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act, 1958.
Anup Kumar Mohapatra, the counsel appearing for the petitioner told OTV that the High Court has directed the archaeological body to file detailed report on the heritage project including assessment of the impact on the 12th-century shrine due to the project construction.
The petitioner requested the bench to put a stay order on the project, however, the Advocate General (AG) appearing for Odisha government said during the hearing that no specific permission is required from the ASI or NMA for construction works like toilets.
The High Court has scheduled June 20 as the next date of hearing in connection with the matter.
The ASI's affidavit in the High Court bears a huge significance because it directly contradicts Odisha government and Puri Collector's earlier claims of receiving authorization for carrying out construction work of the heritage project.
A few weeks ago, an RTI report furnished by the office of the superintending archeologist, ASI, Bhubaneswar in response to an RTI application revealed that 'No such permission is accorded by the ASI, Bhubaneswar circle on the construction of Shree Jagannath Heritage Corridor, Shree Jagannath temple, Puri, Odisha."