Bhubaneswar: A day after the Orissa High Court was intimated that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has not given permission for the Heritage Corridor project around Srimandir in Puri, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra castigated the Odisha government Tuesday for allegedly trying to damage the temple.
Highlighting the observations made by the high court, Patra said the ASI in its affidavit informed the court that the competent authority has not given valid permission or No-Objection Certificate (NOC) to the ongoing construction work of the project.
Raising questions over the presentation of different Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) by the Odisha government, Patra said, “Different DPRs were presented at different times. Why? To confuse? No one with the right intention would ever try to confuse.”
Quoting the high court order, the BJP leader said that the state government-appointed Advocate General AK Parija has intimated the court that the reception centre is now being moved out of the prohibited area and is being constructed in the regulated area.
“Are you (Odisha government) playing with the Jagannath temple? You have admitted that the reception centre was being constructed in the prohibited areas, where no construction activities except toilet, drainage and electricity supply, can be conducted,” he pointed out.
“What saddens me the most as an Odia is the fact that the report states that in every probability, the archaeological remains of the heritage site may have been damaged during construction. This is indeed a black day for every Odia,” the BJP leader further said.
Patra also criticised Puri MP from BJD Pinaki Misra, who had stated in Parliament that only four toilets are being constructed there. “Pinaki babu! You have lied before the Parliament,” he said.
Patra urged the Odisha government to give up its arrogance and accept the fact that they have erred. He further stated that the future generations would not forgive the present government for having possibly destroyed the archaeological remains of Odisha’s greatest heritage.
“We are neither against the development nor the beautification of the world heritage site but the law of the land should be followed which was not in this case,” Patra said.
Bhubaneswar MP Aparajita Sarangi also slammed the Odisha government in a Twitter post. “After filing of ASI’s affidavit before the High Court, I am convinced that Lord Jagannath is trying to save himself and his temple from an elected state government which is hell-bent upon brazenly defying the law,” Sarangi wrote.
“If the structures are declared illegal tomorrow, who will be responsible for wastage of hundreds of crores of rupees, the hard-earned money of Odias?” asked Sarangi.
Meanwhile, BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra slammed both the state government and ASI over the issue. “Why has the ASI remained silent till now?” he asked.
Congress leader Narasingha Mishra raised questions for not conveying a single meeting of the House panel formed for this purpose.
Reacting to this issue, BJD MP Misra said all activities have been taken up in accordance with the prevailing law.
“The construction of toilets, drainage and electrical work do not come under the purview of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act. So, these activities can be carried out. And, the NMA has also given NOC for the construction activities,” he said.
The proposed reception centre has not been planned to be constructed in the prohibited area, he said, adding that the centre will be constructed in the purview of the regulated area after taking due permission from competent authority.
“Moreover, the HC has rejected the prayer of the petitioner to stay the construction work. The court has directed to continue the ongoing work in coordination with the ASI,” Misra added.