Puri: With monsoon rains already hitting the state, the delay in repair of Srimandir Ratnabhandar (treasure house), where seepage of rainwater was found earlier, has raised cause for concern.
The Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) are yet to undertake any step to repair the Ratnabhandar even though they had inspected the structure April 4, last year.
The inspection team had spotted moisture on the walls of the outer chamber of Ratnabhandar. Besides, there was apprehension that plasters at some places of the treasure house might have loosened over the years.
Srimandir servitors and SJTA officials usually open the outer chamber of Ratnabhandar on a few occasions to collect ornaments for some special rituals. However, the inner chamber has remained closed since 1985.
Last year, the Orissa High Court (HC) had directed the SJTA and the ASI to open Ratnabhandar and examine its structural status as part of a renovation drive at Srimandir Jagamohan.
Prior to the HC order, some servitors had informed the Shree Jagannath Temple Managing Committee that there was seepage of rainwater at Ratnabhandar.
The temple administration had decided to open Ratnabhandar and examine its structural status April 4, 2018 after obtaining necessary approval in this regard from the state government and the Srimandir managing panel.
The temple administration had framed a set of guidelines for the inspection team. The team was asked to examine only the structural status of the treasure house. But, it was forbidden to touch ornaments and other valuables at Ratnabhandar.
The team comprising ASI experts and senior officials of the state government had opened the outer camber of Ratnabhandar amid tight security. But, it did not open the inner chamber of the treasure house.
Then SJTA chief administrator Pradeep Jena claimed that the inspection team had examined the status of Ratnabhandar inner chamber though a grille and there was no need to enter the structure.
Subsequently, it was revealed that the SJTA did not have the keys of the inner chamber. The incident created a lot of hue and cry across the state.
After facing flak from several quarters, the state government had set up a judicial commission to probe the episode of missing keys.
Later, officials of the district administration had found duplicate keys of the inner chamber of Ratnabhandar from the district record room.
On the other hand, the judicial commission had submitted report to the state government in November 2018.
“The state government and the SJTA have not taken any step to repair Ratnabhandar. They have turned a blind eye to the safe keeping of Lord Jagannath’s ornaments,” said a social activist.