In a major development, an RTI query revealed that the keys of the Bhitara Ratna Bhandara (inner treasure chamber) of Puri Shree Jagannath Temple are missing since 1970.
The information was obtained from district treasury authority through an RTI application filed by one Dilip Kumar Baral.
Baral, a resident of Kamakantia village under Balanga police limits of Puri district had sought information through his application filed on September 9, 2021 under RTI Act 2005 on the status of the original and duplicate keys of Ratna Bhandara.
Responding to the application, the district collectorate has supplied the information along with some documents to the applicant on Thursday (November 18).
As per the reply, the former treasury officer of Puri had intimated the then Collector regarding the missing keys of the Ratna Bhandar.
In the letter issued on April 4, 2018, the treasury officer stated that "A thorough search was made from the Register of Valuables kept in the strong room from the year 1970 onwards with regard to deposit of the key of Ratna Bhandar of Lord Jagannath Temple. It was revealed that no such keys were ever deposited in the strong room of this treasury."
Similarly, in another letter dated April 4, 2018, the district office, Puri, confidential section, wrote to Chief Administrator of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration, informing that, “After thorough search made by the District Treasury Authority, Puri from the records available with them it is ascertained that no such key of Ratna Bhandar of Lord Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri is deposited in the District Treasury since 1970 as reported by the District Treasury Officer.”
The missing keys of Shree Jagannath Temple’s Ratna Bhandar had triggered a series of controversies in the past with Opposition parties mounting attack on the State Government.
On June 4, 2018, the Odisha government had announced setting up of a Judicial Commission to probe the missing keys of Ratna Bhandar.