Suryakant Jena

A technical team of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and experts from IIT Chennai studying the status of cracks inside Puri Srimandir’s Nata Mandap have expressed 'contrasting' opinions over the repair of the structure inside the 12th century shrine.

One team of ASI led by its Additional DG, Janhwij Sharma and the other one constituting a group of experts from IIT Chennai led by Professor Arun Menon thoroughly inspected the cracks developed on the Nata Mandap of the temple today.

NK Mohanty, the Amicus Curiae appointed by the Orissa High Court to oversee conservation work of the Jagannath Temple, on Sunday spilled out the discordance between the teams while reviewing the cracks on the beam of the temple’s Nata Mandap.

Addressing media persons, Mohanty who was present during the inspection of the temple interiors said that while one of the team opined for repair of the beam the other one voiced to replace the beam altogether.

The Amicus Curiae, however, cleared the air over the disagreement that the final decision regarding the Nata Mandap’s cracks will be taken by the ASI core committee.

“Some suggested bind them (crack portions) together, others opined to fill them up. Some even said we should replace the beam. So decision will be taken by the core committee to ensure that the repair work is finished soon,” said NK Mohanty, Amicus Curiae.

But the assuring fact is that the extent of cracks witnessed on the Nata Mandap in 2018, almost four years ago, has not worsened a bit.

“The cracks have remained intact. No other variations have been noticed at all. ASI is carrying out repair works at around 20 places in Jagannath Temple,” said Arun Mallick, Superintendent, ASI Odisha.

But the big question remains why even after four years the cracks on such a vital portion of the temple have still not been repaired.

Amicus curiae Mohanty last reviewed the cracks in the temple after direction from Orissa High Court in September 17, 2022. According to ASI calculation, the renovation works of the Nata Mandap is scheduled to be completed by March 2023.

However, allotment of this target has not gone down well with a section of servitors and temple core committee members. They have raised apprehensions that the repair works which could not be taken up in four years cannot be completed in four months.

Expressing dissatisfaction over the issue, servitors and core committee members have demanded publication of white paper noting out comprehensive details on status of the damage to the temple structure.

Madhav Mohapatra, member of the Jagannath Temple Managing Committee said the tech experts should clarify as to what extent are the aberrations in cracks developing to the millimetre level every year. They should also publicise the results of the scan they undertook and its results during the inspection of Nata Mandap today, Mohapatra said.