Odishatv Bureau

A large chunk of plaster/construction material fell from the roof of Puri Srimandir's 'garbha gruha' or the sanctum sanctorum on Tuesday, raising concerns about the safety of the Lord Jagannath temple.

The piece of wall plaster (which is believed so far) weighing around 1.5 kg was reportedly found near Lord Balabhadra yesterday following which it was deposited in the warehouse of the Puri temple.

Though the incident has grabbed headlines, the Srimandir administration is yet to comment on the same. Fortunately, no one has been hurt in the falling of the plaster.

During the Rath Yatra, last month, a team of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) visited the Lord Jagannath temple for the scheduled inspection and maintenance as the Holy Trinity was on annual sojourn.

The ASI technical team led by Arun Menon then reportedly studied the cracks and fractures on the walls and the sanctum sanctorum of the Srimandir.

However, surprisingly an ASI official Jyoti Pradhan played it down as a minor incident. "That was a mere lime plaster and there is no need to worry about Srimandir. This is not a sensitive issue and it will be repaired soon," he said.

However, the incident has not gone down well with the servitors. Speaking on the matter, a senior servitor, Sharat Mohanty said, "A piece of chunapathara (plaster) fell off the roof of garbha gruha but the administration wants to suppress the matter... I think the works done by the ASI team are not proper and adequate due to which such incidents are being witnessed. God forbid, had there been any servitors or devotees, they would surely have got injured. This is a sensitive matter and needs to be taken seriously by the authorities."

Administrator (Development) of Puri Srimandir, Ajay Jena later said that after 'Sakala Dhupa' yesterday at around 11:30 am, a chunk of plaster fell off from the roof behind the Ratna Singhasan of Lord Balabhadra. It was lime plaster that fell off. It was put there during the recent Rath Yatra."

"We have apprised the ASI officials who will take necessary steps after inspection," the administrator added. 

Historian and INTACH member, Anil Dhir put the blame squarely on the ASI. Speaking to OTV, he said, "The damage Srimandir has suffered in last 50-60 years is more than it has suffered in the last 600-700 years. The ASI's job was to inspect the sanctum sanctorum during the Rath Yatra when the deities are outside the Temple. But the incident has now raised serious questions on the ASI's role."