ASI hasn’t rejected core committee plan: Pradhan

New Delhi: Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan today said the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has not rejected the proposal of its technical core committee on the repair and restoration work of Jagmohan of Shri Jagannath temple in Puri as reported in the media.

“The ASI has received two reports – one on the proposals of the ASI technical core committee and another from the National Centre for Safety of Heritage Structures (NCSHS), a research wing of the Chennai-Madras IIT. After going through the reports, I found that there is no mention of the ASI has rejecting the proposal of the technical core committee. Hence, the people of Odisha need not panic over the issue,” Pradhan told media persons after attending a review meeting presided over by Union Minister of State (Independent) for Culture and Tourism Mahesh Sharma here.

Stating that the ASI is examining these two reports in detail, Pradhan said it was decided that a delegation of experts led by the Union Culture and Tourism secretary will visit Odisha very soon and have a detailed study of the damaged portion of the Jagmohan.

“The team will have a discussion with the members of the technical core committee and discuss the issue with the leading engineering institutions of the state like the IIT-Bhubaneswar and NIT, Rourkela who are well versed with the major structures in the state. Before winding up their tour, the team will have a meeting with the state chief secretary and senior government officials and prepare a draft project report on permanent repair of the inner side of Jagmohan by assessing the extent of the damage to its inner roof, which was noticed after its deplastering,” Pradhan informed.

He further said there would be no dearth of funds as the Centre is equally concerned over the conservation of this unique temple.

He also said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also shared his concern with the people of Odisha. “The Prime Minister, who is personally monitoring the issue, has apprised Union Minister for Culture and Tourism, Mahesh Sharma of the issue. He has also received a number of letters of request from the people of Odisha, including chief minister Naveen Patnaik who has also reminded him of the issue through letters on several occasions,” Pradhan said.

Briefing the media, Sharma said he had convened a high-level review meeting here in presence of his cabinet colleague Dharmendra Pradhan in the presence of the ASI Director General and Union Culture and Tourism secretary as per the directive of the directive of the Prime Minister in response to the letter of the Odisha chief minister.

“It was decided in the meeting that the Union Culture and Tourism secretary will lead a high level team to Odisha for a detailed study of the Jagmohan. A joint meeting of the experts of the Chennai-Madras IIT and the members of the ASI technical core committee will be convened shortly and the decision to be taken at the meeting will be implemented very soon. Besides, Pradhan has also had a telephonic conversation with the state chief secretary in this regard. We have neither any intention to delay the repair and restoration work of the Jagmohan and nor is there any dearth of money required for it,” he maintained.

Referring to the delay in the repair and restoration work of the Jagmohan, Sharma said there was some technical problem for which the work had been delayed. “The ASI has received the report of the ASI technical core committee. Now that it has received the report of the Chennai-Madras IIT, work will start very soon,” he informed.

Stating that the cracks were noticed after the ASI removed the plaster of its inner roof, he said the people of Odisha and the devotees need not panic as there is no threat to the temple. “For repair of the cracks, the work has to be done by an expert team. I am sure the experts of ASI will fix the crack permanently.”

ASI DG Rajesh Tiwari said the work would be taken up with technical assistance of the experts of the Chennai-Madras IIT and the ASI experts.

Replying to a question on the resignation of Dr GC Mitra, chairman of ASI Technical Core Committee yesterday, Tiwari said Mitra has given his suggestion with regard to the repair work. “We will certainly consider his proposal and work in consultation with IIT and ASI experts,” he added.

He further said the work will begin very soon as the report of the Chennai-Madras IIT has been received. “We will proceed as per its report and suggestions,” Tiwari said.

Among others, BJP MLA Dilip Ray was also present at the review meeting.

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