Iskcon given permission to build institutional complex: UD secy

Bhubaneswar: With the controversy over the proposed construction of a temple by the Iskcon in Puri, the State Urban Development department on Wednesday said it had given permission to Iskcon for construction of an institutional complex.

Talking to OTV, Urban Development secretary G Mathivathanan said the area of the proposed complex would be 17,903 sq ft. The department had given permission for G-2 (Ground Fllor+2) instead of G-7 as sought by Iskcon for construction of the proposed complex.

Admitting that there was an allegation relating to the land given to Iskcon since May last year, the secretary said on the basis of the allegation, the Puri Konark Development Authority (PKDA) has asked them to stop construction work of the proposed complex till the matter is settled in the court. Besides, it has also served a show cause notice to Iskcon authorities asking them to appear in person on January 29, he said.

PKDA has handed over all documents pertaining to the case to the Urban Development department.

Meanwhile, OTV on Wednesday obtained a copy of the letter written by Puri collector Arvind Agarwal to Urban Development minister Pushpendra Singhdeo. In the letter, the collector has said the project director of Iskcon, Banamali Das, had applied to PKDA for construction of an institutional complex in 2012. After verification of the no-objection certificates (NoCs) obtained by the Iskcon, PKDA had given G-2 permission for construction of the proposed complex.

The letter also stated that the application submitted by the Iskcon talked about the construction of a Bhakta Nivas, a temple and a museum, but had no refernce to Jagannath temple. Leaflets circulated by the Iskcon, however, did mention a temple like the Shri Jagannath temple, the collector said in his letter.

The letter further stated that the PKDA has received a petition relating to the disputed land on which the proposed complex would come up. On the basis of the petition, show cause notices have been served to both the parties to appear on January 27, the letter stated.

Asked about the issue, Law minister Arun Sahu said the Urban Development minister and the concerned secretary have already given their statement to the media. He made it clear that under no circumstances will the pristine culture and tradition of Lord Jagannath be allowed to be tarnished.

Notably, Urban Development minister Pushpendra Singhdeo, in his briefing to the media on Tuesday, had said his department had already asked for a report on the matter from Puri collector, who is also PKDA vice chairman.

“The matter has come to our notice. Besides, the media has covered the issue. We have asked the Collector to examine under what circumstance the approval was given, what kind of temple kind will be built and how much land has been allotted. A detailed report has been sought from him. It is difficult to say anything on the issue now. But the department will take the next step after examining the report,” the minister said.

It may be mentioned that in response to the allegation made by BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra on Monday that the Iskcon has planned to construct another Jagannath temple in Puri, ISKCON on Tuesday clarified that the proposed temple at Baliapanda will have idols of Radha Krushna and not Lord Jagannath.

}