Himansu Shekhar Rout

The first meeting of the high-level committee formed by the Odisha government to supervise the process of inventory of valuables in the Ratna Bhandar (treasure trove) of Lord Jagannath Temple was held in Puri on Saturday.

The meeting was chaired by retired Supreme Court judge, Justice Arijit Pasayat at the office of the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA). 

The last time the Ratna Bhandar was opened for an inventory was in the year 1978. 

Speaking to the media, Arijit Pasayat said, "We discussed the convenient time to enter the Ratna Bhandar for counting the valuables. Usually, devotees do not go to Srimandir after Snana Purnima. But no one can enter at that time if the servitors do not wish. That period may be fine. We are mulling that after getting the 1978 report on the Ratna Bhandar inventory, we can make use of technology. Cameras, if there is any can study the inside of the Ratna Bhandar. We had preliminary discussions on such aspects.”

He added, "We have a readymade list of ornaments, but I have not seen that list as yet. The counting of the valuables was done in 1926 during the British Raj and then in 1978. Then minor verifications were done in 1982 and 1985.”

Following the recent order of the Orissa High Court, the Odisha government constituted the committee. Justice Pasayat was appointed the chairman of the 12-member committee and eminent heart surgeon Ramakant Panda is the deputy chairman. Members of the committee also include former CMD of Allahabad Bank Bidhubhusan Samal, Chartered Accountant A K Sabat, Puri Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb’s representative, a representative of the ASI, representatives of servitors and the Deputy Chief Administrator of SJTA. The Chief Administrator of SJTA is the member convener of the panel.

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