Sharmili Mallick

Bhubaneswar: The State government today seemed to have washed its hands off over the issue of parking Puri Srimandir funds in crisis-hit Yes Bank by saying that it was the temple administration which had deposited the amount as it the sole authority for management of affairs of the shrine.

Replying to a query over the issue during a discussion in the State Assembly, Finance Minister Niranjan Pujari said the funds of Jagannath Temple in Puri is regulated by the managing committee of the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) and State government has nothing to do with it.

The temple funds were deposited in the bank because of the higher interest rate offered by Yes Bank. The managing committee selected the bank through a tender process and a proposal was also moved in this regard. As many as 12 banks gave quotations and Yes Bank was selected among them as it offered the highest interest i.e. 8.61 per cent per annum. Therefore, the amount was fixed in the bank for a year, informed the Finance Minister.

Also Read: Srimandir Funds In Yes Bank: BJD MPs Meet FM Nirmala Sitharaman

A total Rs 626.44 crore, Rs 592 crore was kept in Yes Bank. While Rs 545 crore was deposited in the bank as fixed deposits, the remaining Rs 47 crore was in a Flexi account.

On the other hand, BJP Chief Whip Mohan Majhi targeted State Government for its alleged inaction over the issue and accused it of playing with the sentiments of the devotees of Lord Jagannath. Majhi has compared the issue with the mega-crore chit fund scam in the State.

Also Read: Plea In OHRC Seeking Probe Into Parking Of Srimandir Funds In Yes Bank

Majhi also alleged that chartered accountant Bijay Sahoo and ex-SJTA administrator Pradeepta Mohapatra toured Europe with the commission money they got for parking the deposits in Yes Bank and when Madhab Mohapatra, a member of the temple managing finance sub-committee raised his voice against the act, he was removed from the committee.

Majhi raised the State government's motive behind the elevation of Sahoo to rank of Minister of State with the appointment as an advisor to the Odisha Adarsha Vidyalaya Sangathan.

Bijay Sahoo, however, refuted the allegations of kickbacks & Yes Bank-funded trips to Europe terming them as baseless & fabricated.

On the other hand, Madhab Mohapatra questioned "Why finance sub-committee chief Bijay Sahoo did not guide & inform about crisis in Yes Bank; I have said nothing about Yes Bank-funded European tours," adding further that he is still a member of the SJTA finance sub-committee.

Later in the day, former SJTA Chief Administrator, Pradipta Mohapatra said "As the matter is being debated in Assembly, I will not comment but on the personal allegation made, I want to clarify that I haven't travelled to Europe in the past 4 years."