Stop temple construction work, PKDA tells Iskcon

Puri: In a latest move, the Puri Konark Development Authority (PKDA) on Tuesday served a show cause notice on the Iskcon authorities and asked to stop construction work of the proposed temple at Puri till the matter is settled.

The Authority directed the Iskcon office-bearers to appear on January 29 in connection with the case.

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

Briefing the media earlier in the day, Urban Development minister Pushpendra Singhdeo had said his department has already asked for a report on the matter from Puri collector, who is also PKDA vice chairman.

“The matter has come to our notice today. 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. Though it is difficult to say anything on the issue now, the department will take the next step after examining the report,” the minister said.

In a clarification, Puri collector Arvind Agarwal said the Iskcon, in its building plan, has said the land will be developed as institutional area.

“Nowhere have they 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,” the collector said.

He further said if they (the Iskcon authorities) are planning to build to a Jagannath temple, they are hiding information.

“Action will definitely be taken as per the provisions. 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 out we will take back the land,” Agarwal pointed out.

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,” he claimed.

He also made it clear that 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?” he asked.

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.”

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, 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.