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No Decision On Bhandar Opening; Minister

Bhubaneswar:  Clearing the air on reopening of Ratna Bhandar of Jagannath Temple in Puri, Law Minister Prithiviraj Harichandan today said that no decision has been taken yet on the opening of the Bhandar on July 8.

 “An ASI official commented on the matter and created confusion to cover up own mistake. Action will be taken against the concerned ASI official,” the Minister said.

A decision on opening of the Ratna Bhandar will be taken after examining the matter, he added.

It was decided in the meeting to reopen the treasure trove of Srimandir on July 8, a day after Rath Jatra, Superintendent of the Archaeological Survey of India DB Garnayak said after the meeting.

The Ratna Bhandar will be opened in the presence of the core committee and technical committee.

As per the 2018 report, an inspection was done and cracks were observed, some stones had fallen and some iron rods were missing. The condition was not good. In the laser scanning done last November, cracks were detected in the outer wall and joints. Through these cracks, rainwater might be entering, said Shri Garnayak.

However, later, the ASI official clarified that the State Government will take decision on the reopening of the Ratna Bhandar.

Odisha government to take decision on when to open the Ratna Bhandar; ASI is prepared for the conservation work,” says  ASI Superintendent.

In April 2018, officials of the temple could not find the keys of the Ratna Bhandar, situated near the sanctum sanctorum of the temple, as they proceeded to do an inspection of its structural condition as per an order of the Orissa high court.

Following a hue and cry, the State Government had ordered a judicial inquiry into the matter and the commission submitted a 324-page report in November 2018. The report is yet to be made public.

Curiously, days after the judicial inquiry was ordered, the then Puri district Collector mysteriously found an envelope with duplicate keys of inner Ratna Bhandar written on it adding fuel to the lingering controversy over the treasure trove.

Tall BJP leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP President J P Nadda have raised this issue during the election campaigning several times and targeted the then BJD government.

The BJP leaders have also promised to reopen the Ratna Bhandar and conduct a probe into this matter after BJP forms government in the State. They have also promised to make the Judicial Commission report public. Now, all eyes are on the move of the BJP government.