No plans to build Jagannath temple: Iskcon

Puri: A day after senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra questioned the State government’s silence over an attempt to build a second Jagannath temple at Puri, ISKCON on Tuesday clarified the proposed temple at Baliapanda will be of Radha Krushna deities, not of the Holy Trinity as claimed in media reports and by some groups.

Speaking to media persons, ISKCON’s project director Banamali Das said, “The allegation of building a second Jagannath Temple at Puri is baseless and politically motivated. We do not have any such proposal. ISKCON would never dare build another Jagannath temple in the pilgrim city.”

“When Puri has such a big Jagannath temple and badadanda, which also belongs to ISKCON, why would we build another one? The allegations have been levelled to get political mileage,” Das said.

He added, “No Jagannath idol would be placed nor Rath Yatra held at the proposed ISKCON temple at Puri. When our ISKCON devotees are participating in the Puri Rath Yatra, why would we build another Jagannath temple?”

Das further stated, “What we will have at Baliapanda is a Radha Krushna temple and an ashram. The proposed temple would be of 32-feet high and will be built on one acre of land. We have 15-18 acres of land.”

When asked about the brochure of ISKCON in which it was clearly mentioned that idols of the Holy Trinity will be placed at the proposed temple, Das said, “As I am associated with the project, I can confirm that we do not have any such proposal. In the brochure, the photos of the Holy Trinity are present. But that does not mean idols will be installed at the proposed temple. Idols of Radha Krushna, Gaurang, Nrusinghadeb would be worshipped.”

ISKCON has an ashram and a small temple at the site of the proposed temple since 1988.

Asked about the involvement foreign hands in the building of the temple, Das replied, “These talks are false and cooked up.”

The proposed temple has already got the approval of Puri Konark Development Authority (PKDA) and ground breaking ceremony was performed on November 29, he revealed.

Meanwhile, Urban Development minister Pushpendra Singh Deo has said the department has already asked for a report on the matter from Puri collector, who is also PKDA vice chairman.

Deo told newsmen, “The matter has come to our notice today. Besides, 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.”

Deo further stated, “After examining the report, the next step will be taken. It is difficult to say anything on the issue now.”

Commenting on the recent developments, Puri Collector Arvind Agarwal said, “In its building plan, ISKCON has said the land will be developed as institutional area. Nowhere they have mentioned that a Jagannath temple will be built. As per their proposal to the PKDA, a temple, yatri nivas, kitchen shed and prasad bitaran centre will be built on the land. It was believed that the proposed ISKCON temple will be similar to its counterparts in other place. Though they had asked for a five-storey building proposal, the PKDA approved only a three-storey building plan in the permissible area as per the CRZ regulations. In compliance with rules and regulations, the approval was given by planning member. Environmental clearance and other no objection certificates (NoCs), including those related to land, were given to the project following which the PKDA approved it. If they are planning to build to a Jagannath temple, the information has been hidden from us. Action will definitely be taken as per the provisions. Now we are investigating whether they have hidden anything or not. Besides, land related issues will be inquired into. If they are doing any activities on adjacent land, definitely an inquiry will be done. If anything comes ou,t we will take back the land.”

Earlier today,members of the Jagannath Sena holding placards and posters in hand staged a protest against the ISKCON’s proposed temple in front of the Sri Mandir.

Notably, Mohapatra had alleged on Monday that foreign hands are behind planning the construction of the proposed ISKCON Jagannath temple, just 2 km away from the Sri Jagannath temple in Puri.

As per the project report prepared by ISKCON, the proposed temple would come up on 52,000 sq ft area. The proposed temple, whose ground breaking ceremony was done on November 29, will be 4.5 km away from Batamangala and 2.5 km from the Bada Danda. The site of the proposed temple is barely 200 metres from the sea beach.

Meanwhile, in a twist to the story, it has now emerged that the land on which the proposed ISKCON temple would come up is caught up in litigation.

Bijay Kumar Panda, the Power of Attorney holder of the 30 acres land on which the project is coming up, said, “In 2000. Hasmukh Lal Desai had given me the charge to look after the land of Gopal Trust that was formed when he was alive. As a representative of Hasmukh Lal’s son Piyush, who is in the US these days, I have come to the ADM court today.”

“In the civil case, one party was Gouraneta of Jagannath Puri trust representative. However, through RTI, we found no such trust exists. Later, Banamali Das, as project manager, became a party to the case. If the the matter is sub-judice, how come the project got the PKDA approval? Therefore, we are objecting to the approval at the ADM court. Besides, another case with Lakshmi Builder to whom Gouraneta has sold the land is going on,” he added.

}