Mrunal Manmay Dash

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has come under immense criticism after an RTI report revealed that the cracks on Natamandapa are still being repaired, even after five years since the repair works first started.

The cracks were visible in the pockets of Natamandapa of Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri during the financial year, 2021-22, the RTI query revealed.

However, will the repair work be completed before April this year, is a question which remains unanswered.

RTI activist Hemanta Kumar Panda said, “The structural repair works of Srimandir was done in 2017-18 financial year, 2018-19 and in 2019-20 financial year too. However, the cracks have still developed as reported by the ASI.”

“The cracks were again visible in 2021-22. It proves that the repair works were done only on paper by the ASI. We still do not know if the Natamandap is safe. The facts need to be presented before the devotees of Lord Jagannath,” Panda added.

Earlier in 2019, the Orissa High Court had ordered the Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), to complete the repair of the temple's Natamandapa within four months.

In November 2022, technical team of ASI and experts from IIT Chennai studying the status of cracks had expressed 'contrasting' opinions over the repair of the structure inside the 12th century shrine.

The Amicus curiae last reviewed the cracks in the temple after direction from Orissa High Court in September 17, 2022. According to ASI estimation, the renovation work of the Natamandapa is scheduled to be completed by April 2023.

However, servitors and temple core committee members raised apprehensions saying that the repair works that could not be taken up in five years cannot be completed in one month.

(Reported By Madhusudan Mishra, OTV)