President to talk to Centre on opening ASI office in Puri

Puri: President Pranab Mukherjee today said he would discuss with the union culture minister on a proposal for opening a unit office of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) here for proper conservation of of Sri Jagannath temple, according to a senior temple official.
"The President paid obeisance to Lord Jagannath this morning and wanted to know many things about the temple. He was apprised of matters relating to the shrine," Chief Administrator of Sri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA), Arvind Padhee told reporters.
Padhee said Mukherjee was told about the need to have a proper office of ASI with a senior officer to ensure proper conservation of the 12th century shrine.
"He (president) stated that he would discuss the matter with the union culture minister and take necessary steps in this regard," the Chief Administrator said.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had in May wrote to Union Culture Minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch seeking the opening of a support office of ASI which has been entrusted with the task of maintenance of the temple.
Apart from the need to strengthen ASI's activities in Puri, the President was informed about preparations for Lord Jagannath's "Nabakalebara" festival in 2015 for which the Chief Minister has sought a Special Central Assistance of Rs 1,397 crore from Planning Commission, Padhee said.
He said Mukherjee wanted to have a detailed report about the activities proposed to be undertaken for which the money was required.
Naveen Patnaik had also written a letter to Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia over three months ago seeking special assistance for the event.
The projected requirement of funds for developmental works to be taken up in view of Nabakalebara festival was around Rs 1,397 crore, Patnaik had said adding around 50 lakh people are expected to congregate at Puri town at that time.
Nabakalebara festival is celebrated every 12 to 19 years when deities leave old form and assume new forms.