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Mrunal Manmay Dash

A fact finding team of the Puri Bar Association has strongly objected to the constructions undertaken by the State government dangerously close to the Srimandir under the ambitious ‘Parikrama Project’.

Threatening to move court against the constructions, a member of the team said that this was brazen violation of law, and if the District Administration did not refrain from continuing with the project they will be forced to move court.

team of lawyers were particularly livid over the District Administration’s alleged violation of the guidelines laid down by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (AMASR Act), 1958 which was cited in a letter by the National Monuments Authority’s (NMA) while replying to a query posed by the District Administration, asking for permissions for the proposed project.

Pertinent to mention here that the NMA, in a reply to the Puri District Administration, had clearly stated that it had 'No Objection' for the execution of 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". This is under assurance of strict compliance of AMASR, Act. 1958, Section 2 (dc).

The Prohibited Area comes under 100 metre radius of the Srimandir and the area between 100-200 metres radius has been termed as the Regulated Area under the Act.

However, the District Administration had asked for permission to construct bigger structures namely; Reception Centre, Donation Kiosk, First Aid Centre, Police Service Centre and ATM Kiosk in the prohibited area, to which the NMA replied to justify the location of the construction or re-locate them to the Regulated Area. The NMA also requested to furnish the details with regard to the facilities for the public which are sought to be provided through these structures.

Prashant Mishra, the former President of the Puri Bar Association, told OTV, “After receiving news that the construction has been undertaken without permission from the ASI, we decided to visit the site in the interest of the people of Puri and to safeguard the Srimandir.”

“Looking at the pits and the pillars erected on them, it does not seem to be a small/temporary structure as permitted by the NMA. The construction is being done within the Prohibited Area near the Srimandir. We will meet the district Collector now and discuss the issue with him,” Mishra said.

Another member of the Fact Finding Team said, “The District and Temple Administrations have violated the rule. We will convey our objection to this construction to the Dictrict Collector today. If we do not receive satisfactory answer from him then we will move the Orissa High Court to stop the construction immediately.”

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