Puri: The Puri district administration Thursday resumed the eviction drive in the area near Srimandir here despite protests by local monks and opposition political parties.
The eviction drive which was halted Tuesday started Thursday with demolition of some commercial establishments located within the premises of Emar Mutt (monastery), a major portion
of which have been razed, an official said.
The eviction drive resumed after Puri district Collector Balwant Singh Wednesday announced that the drive would continue as decided by the state government.
The Collector, however, said that the seat of presiding deities of each monastery would remain intact. The district administration has rejected the request of the local people and mutts to stop eviction and demolition of ancient structures located within 75 meters from the boundary wall of Srimandir.
The chiefs of different mutts in an open letter to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) have appealed to him to issue a stay order on eviction drive as the drive was being carried out “without the consent” of mutt authorities.
Claiming that they have not given any consent for demolition of ancient structures, the monks alleged that they are being forced by district administration to agree for demolition of buildings.
The Supreme Court appointed Amicus Curiae and Solicitor General will visit Puri Friday. Both are supposed to submit report in the Apex Court before hearing of a case seeking stop of eviction drive being carried out in the name of providing security to the temple.
Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and BJP national spokesman Sambit Patra met Govardhan Peeth Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati and discussed the Puri eviction drive.
“There should be consensus on developing and beautifying Puri town. The persons implementing the development schemes should be very careful as they deal with issues related to centuries old religious institutions,” Pradhan told reporters.
Apart from meeting the Shankaracharya, Patra also met the head of Bada Akhada mutt Harinarayan Das.
Meanwhile, the opposition BJP and Congress have intensified
their protest to the government’s eviction drive.
BJP national vice-president Baijayant Panda said, “Before going for the eviction drive, the government should take view of the affected people. This has not happened in Puri.”
BJP lawmaker Bishnu Charan Sethi criticised the demolition of ancient mutts. The government has “failed” to conserve the heritage of century old mutts, he said.
Congress lawmaker Suresh Routray, who visited Puri, termed the government action as “attack” on cultural heritage of Lord Jagannath.
“How can the government evict the century old mutts which are linked with the rituals of Sri Jagannath Temple,” Routray asked.
Law Minister Pratap Jena, however, defended the government’s action and appealed all not to politicise the matter as eviction is being carried out for the safety and security of the temple.