Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Though the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) claims to have completed the laser scanning of the Puri Srimandir Ratna Bhandar (treasure trove) two months ago, no details of the findings have been made available. Under such circumstances, several devotees of Lord Jagannath remain in the dark about the condition of the Ratna Bhandar.

A day before, Odisha Law Minister Jagannath Saraka had made a statement in the State Assembly that the condition of the Ratna Bhandar will be assessed after the laser scanning and it can be opened and repaired during the Rath Yatra. However, he remained tight-lipped about whether the ornaments of the Holy Trinity in the Ratna Bhandar would be inventoried or not. In their response to the development, many intellectuals in the State and the servitors of Srimandir are of the opinion that the State government is afraid to make information about the Ratna Bhandar public as the 2024 General Elections are approaching.

The laser scanning of the Ratna Bhandar was conducted by a 15-member ASI team comprising architects, expert engineers and scientific photographers to detect suspected cracks on the wall. However, many questioned why the report has not been made public yet. Many have alleged that the government is dilly-dallying to open the Ratna Bhandar despite the order given by the High Court.

“The government is hiding the reports fearing backlash from people. ASI is also a part of the conspiracy,” said lawyer, Sarat Raiguru.

Moreover, many senior servitors have alleged that the government is hiding the report of Justice Raghubir Das Commission on the missing Ratna Bhandar keys and the laser scanning report ahead of the upcoming elections.

“The State government is fully responsible for not making the report public. The government is often avoiding the issue and changing its statements about opening the Ratna Bhandar as the election is approaching,” said senior servitor Binayak Das Mohapatra.

“We demand the opening of the Ratna Bhandar soon. People should know about the amount of jewels and ornaments of Lord Jagannath,” said Suruchi Pani, a devotee of Lord Jagannath.

Meanwhile, Gajapati Maharaj Dibyasingha Deb has also expressed his concern over the poor condition of Ratna Bhandar.

Earlier in an interview with OTV on January 16, Gajapati had stated that laser scanning of both the inner and outer walls of Ratna Bhandar has been conducted. The real condition of Ratna Bhandar will be revealed following the submission of the ASI report before the temple management committee after the inauguration of the Srimandir Parikrama project on January 17. However, the report is yet to be made available even 23 days after the inauguration of the Srimandir Parikrama project.

Meanwhile, commenting on the development, ASI superintendent GB Gadnayak said that laser scanning of the outer wall of Ratna Bhandar has been conducted.

“We will provide the report of the laser scanning of the outer wall of Ratna Bhandar to the temple administration. Cracks have developed in Ratna Bhandar. We will try to finish the repairing work before Rath Yatra,” said Gadnayak.

Now, it remains to be seen when the laser scanning report will be submitted by the ASI to the temple management committee.