The ongoing Puri Heritage Corridor construction work might have caused damage to the 800-year-old Jagannath Temple, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) informed the Orissa High Court yesterday. ASI also said that the state government project was being carried out without valid permission from the competent authorities.
According to ASI affidavit, the ongoing construction work of the project being carried out by the Odisha government inside the “prohibited” area of the ancient monument has no valid permission or No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the competent authorities. According to the provisions of the Act, the area within 100 meters from a monument is a ‘prohibited’ zone while that within 200 meters falls under the ‘regulated’ category.
Hearing a PIL claiming that construction work for the project has affected the health of the temple, the court had asked the ASI, the custodian of the 12th-century shrine, to undertake a joint inspection of the site with the state government and file a report to the court.
It may be remembered that in 2020-21, the National Monument Authority (NMA) had framed draft bylaws under The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act (AMASR), 2010, for Jagannath Temple and its subsidiary shrines which was opposed by the Sri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA). SJTA wanted NMA to consult it before coming out any guidelines as it severely affected the temple administration’s authority to carry out any development works.
The architectural plan approved by the temple managing committee of the Sri Jagannath temple, Puri proposes a total outlay of Rs 3200 crore. Initially, Rs 800 crore would be made available from the State government’s Augmentation of Basic Amenities and Development of Heritage and Architecture at Puri (ABADHA) scheme followed by another Rs 265 crore in the first phase.