Pradeep Pattanayak

At a time when the controversy over the Puri Srimandir Jagannath Heritage Corridor Project refuses to die down, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has added fuel to the fire by claiming that no permission was obtained from its Bhubaneswar circle to carry out any construction work under the project. 

In a letter recently obtained from the ASI in response to the RTI query filed by one Kshitish Singh, a Kendrapara based RTI activist, the former has said no permission was sought from its Bhubaneswar circle to execute the project. Besides, no advisories or any guidelines were issued in this regard. 

The recent development has raised several questions:

1. How is the project construction work going on without ASI’s permission? 

2. Why is ASI not taking any steps to halt the work? 

3. During the hearing in Orissa High Court on April 21, why did the ASI seek time to submit reports?

“If no permission has been sought from the ASI to start construction work near Srimandir under the project, why it (ASI) is not taking action to stop the work,” asked Singh. 

On the other hand, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Sambit Patra expressed his concerns in a series of tweets. “Kala-Pahadiya’ mentality will only lead to greater loss to OdiyaAshmita,” read one of his tweets. 

“Without any Politics and for the sake of OdiyaAshmita the least can be done is to stop any ongoing constructions till further orders from the Orissa High Court. Remember one thing “Stubbornness & Arrogance only leads to destruction... never to creation,” read another tweet. 

Meanwhile, Puri district Collector on Tuesday turned down the requests of Srimandir Banchao Abhiyan Committee and Srimandir Parakrama Prakalpa Suraksha Mancha to take out a rally and organise a ‘deepa dana’ event, respectively.

Srimandir Banchao Abhiyan Committee was to take out a rally from Sharadhabali to Srimandir protesting the ongoing construction work under the project on Wednesday. 

“The committee today met the Collector with respect to the permission for its rally in protest against the Heritage Corridor Project. However, the Collector didn’t give permission citing the law and order issues as the reason,” said committee member Binay Nrusingha Mohapatra, adding that they would decide their future course of action in the coming days. 

It is to be mentioned here that the BJP’s Bhubaneswar MP Aparajita Sarangi was scheduled to attend the rally. Following the district administration’s move, the Parliamentarian, in a tweet, said she will visit the Jagannath Temple on Wednesday.  

“I am going to Puri tomorrow in the forenoon to seek the blessings of Mahaprabhu Jagannath- the guiding force of our lives. Looking Forward,” read the tweet. 

“Our request has also been cancelled on the same ground. However, we pray to Lord Jagannath for the early completion of the project without a hitch,” said a member of Srimandir Parakrama Prakalpa, Suraksha Mancha Prasanna Mohapatra. The Mancha was to observe a mass 'deepa dana' event at the Market Square in Puri town.