Bhubaneswar: Union Minister of Culture and Tourism Prahlad Singh Patel Sunday announced that all the 820 centrally protected monuments under the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) will reopen Monday. The list also includes Puri Jagannath temple.
As per the list issued by the ministry, Puri Jagannath temple, Konark Sun Temple, Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneswar and 43 other centrally protected monuments could be opened following directions from the Central government.
However, according to highly-placed sources in the state government, the final decision lies with the Government of Odisha which is likely to notify its decision soon. The decision will be based on the local conditions of COVID-19 spread and its own local lockdown regulations.
At least three senior IAS officers from the state told this correspondent that the state rule will prevail. The local ASI Superintendent though did not comment on the issue when approached.
It may be recalled that the states have been given power by the Home Ministry under the lockdown rules to frame their own norms based on the local conditions.
Earlier in the day, Patel claimed that all protocols issued by the Home Ministry and the Health Ministry will be followed for the monuments once they open these centres for the public. This comes in the wake of Home Ministry’s guidelines granting liberty for temples to open.
The ministry said that the ASI will have to take all precautionary measures and ensure the compliance of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) issued by the Health Ministry and other departments. The state government in the State lockdown orders had said that large congregation of people in religious sites would not be allowed during lockdown 5/Unlock 1.0 till June 30.
“ASI shall ensure that preventive measures as stipulated in the Standard Operating Procedures issued by Health Ministry to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the religious places/places of worship are effectively put in place and scrupulously followed while opening and managing these Centrally Protected Monuments,” a statement from the culture ministry said.