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Pradeep Pattanayak

At a time when the controversy surrounding the execution of digging outside Puri Jagannath Temple as part of Heritage Corridor (Srimandir Parikrama) project works is intensifying by the day, the development has drawn both the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP ) to cross swords.

On the other hand, despite protests against the ongoing construction works of the project, plaques and diagrams were on Sunday found to have been put up near the 12th century shrine in Puri probably by the administration in apparent move to inform about the project in a better manner to the public.

One of the plaques installed at the project site informs about the planned toilets for both the genders, a reception hall for pilgrims and information centre to be built at the western gate of the Jagannath Temple. Another one gives information as to how many pillars will be constructed and how much area it will cover.  Similarly, a diagram has also been fixed at the site containing the details regarding the construction to be carried out at the western gate.

However, it seems that the setting up of plaques and diagrams has failed to cut any ice with the servitors and lawyers who have been demanding immediate stoppage of all construction works until obtaining of mandatory permission like NOC from the competent authority, the ASI. 

“The National Monuments Authority (NMA) doesn’t have any right to grant permission to carry out construction work near the temple. What it has allowed is for the construction of structures to provide essential amenities only. But from the way the toilets are being constructed, it seems a bridge is under construction. Foundation holes were dug up as deep as 40 feet,” explained Bishwanath Dash, a lawyer. 

Somnath Khuntia, a servitor, said, “The diagrams of the project are all meaningless. The charts are different from what are being constructed. Since last one month, the administration has been fooling the people of Odisha with lies.”

Meanwhile, the Mahant of Uttaraparswa Mutt, situated on the North side of the Jagannath Temple, Narayan Ramanuja Dash Maharaj, is sceptical about the Heritage Corridor seeing the light of the day.  

“The district Collector had laid the foundation stone for carrying out repair work of the mutt on the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya last year. He had also given his consent that Mahants could carry out the construction work of their mutts. But we have not been given any written permission,” rued the Mahant.

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