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Sharmili Mallick

Bhubaneswar: The Opposition parties on Wednesday lambasted the Naveen-led Odisha Government for allegedly ignoring Supreme Court’s order by not deputing a full time Chief Administrator at Puri Srimandir for managing the temple affairs.

Addressing a presser at Congress Bhawan in Bhubaneswar, spokesperson Satya Prakash Nayak also took a jibe at Secretary of Transformation and Initiatives (5T) VK Pandian for not implementing the apex court’s directive.

“Why is the government appointing an additional official instead of deputing full time administrator? We demand the government to engage an official who will have exclusive powers for Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA).”

Earlier on November 4, a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra had directed the Odisha government to depute a full time Chief Administrator for SJTA instead of appointing an officer with additional charges of the temple.

Interestingly, despite the orders by the State apex court, IAS Krishan Kumar has been handling the additional charge of the SJTA with the charge of the Commissioner-cum-Secretary of Cooperation and Special Secretary of the Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment Departments.

Criticising VK Pandian over the issue, the Congress leader said, “When the CM unveiled the draft architecture of Srimandir’s Heritage Corridor, Pandian mentioned in the press release that Naveen is a big devotee of Lord Jagannath. He (Pandian) said how he was surprised to see the CM paying obeisance to each and every hoardings with Lord Jagannath’s pictures that came in the way to Puri during his and the CM’s visit to Srimandir earlier in January 2016.”

“If Pandian can understand Naveen’s feelings for Lord Jagannath, then how cannot he read and understand Supreme Court’s orders,” added Nayak.

Besides, BJP's Prabhati Parida said: Devotees of Lord Jagannath also want a permanent administrator. The government is hurting sentiment of lakhs of devotees by not deputing a full time Chief Administrator at Puri Srimandir. We demand the government to take immediate steps in this regard.

On the other hand, Commerce and Transport Minister Padmanabha Behera criticised the Congress saying the Grand Old Party has developed a habit of accusing the government with something or other.

“Congress has developed a tradition of bringing false allegations. The entire State knows what steps are being taken by the CM for the safety and development of Srimandir and Puri. The government has been brainstorming about the deputation of full time chief administrator and when the time comes, the decision will be taken appropriately,” he stated.

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