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Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Adding more fuel to the raging controversy surrounding the construction works near Srimandir, BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra on Wednesday questioned the intention of the Odisha government following recovery of a huge ancient broken stone sculpture resembling a lion during digging and excavation works on the premises of historic Emar Mutt in Puri on Monday.

“Why the advice of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was ignored and ground-penetrating radar survey (GPRS) and impact assessment study were not undertaken at the site before carrying out the digging activities resulting in the damage to the antique sculpture,” asked Patra while addressing a presser.

“It’s a matter of concern and a heart-wrenching incident for all the Odias. The broken stone sculpture of the lion is not something to be politicised, rather it should have been conserved. The lion sculpture is a matter of self respect for us. It depends on us how we will keep our self respect intact for the future generation,” said Patra.

The senior BJP leader also attacked Puri MP Pinaki Mishra for making a ‘misleading’ statement on the heritage corridor project in the Parliament.

"Truth cannot stay hidden for long. If the State government fails to protect the heritage of Odisha, the future generations will never forgive it. The Parikrama project is underway without approval. Pinaki Mishra is misleading people, whatever he's saying is against constitutional laws," Patra said.

Responding to Patra’s allegations, Ghasipura MLA Badri Narayan Patra said, “They (Opposition) are casting aspersions on the government out of jealousy. Naveen Patnaik’s popularity has become unbearable for them. They are not in a position to accept it that the Chief Minister would take credit of the development of Srimandir. All are playing their cards but people will give befitting reply.”  

Earlier, the ASI, in its affidavit to the Orissa High Court, had claimed that no GPRS was conducted to ascertain the archaeological and historical importance lying buried in the subsoil of 75m radius (Construction Zone) of Centrally Protected Monuments.
The damage to the ancient sculpture due to lack of GPRS has triggered sharp reactions among different sections of people in the State.

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