Rashmi Rekha Das

At a time when the demand for opening of Ratna Bhandar is gathering steam after the Superintendent of the Archaeological Survey of India issued a letter to the Chief Administrator of Srimandir in Puri for the opening of the treasury, State Law Minister agannath Saraka has drawn criticism over his remark on the issue.

According to sources, the ASI Superintendent in the letter had asked the Srimandir administration to take the required measures to open the 'Bhitara Ratna Bhandar' or the inner treasure chamber of Jagannath Temple as it is not in a good condition.  A letter regarding the same has been sent to the State Law Department and ASI DG. 

On Friday when the Law Minister Jagannath Saraka was asked about government’s future action on it, he said, “The state government would verify ASI’s letter before arriving at final decision. Besides, the government would hold talks with all parties before coming to a conclusion in this regard.”

He further added saying jokingly “Who has seen Ratna Bhandar. Neither me nor you.”

On the other hand, senior Congress leader said, “The state government is scared for some unknown reasons. As General Elections are approaching, the state government is afraid of losing elections. It is mandatory for the government to open Ratna Bhandara and repair it after ASI issued letter to the government. The government must open the Ratna Bhandar as people of Odisha want to know if the deities' jewellery and other valuables were safe. Immediate inventory of Ratna Bhandar is the need of hour.” 

Notably, in 2021 then law minister Pratap Jena informed the House that according to 1978 inventory, the 'Ratna Bhandar' had 12,831 'bhari' of gold and 22,153 'bhari' of silver (one bhari is equal to 11.66 grams). The treasury also had 12,831 gram of gold ornaments with precious stones and other valuables in store, he had said.