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Slugfest Over Corridor Project

Puri: In an aim to develop Shree Jagannath Temple area as a world heritage site, the Odisha Government had launched the ambitious Heritage Corridor  Project around the Puri temple based on the recommendations of the Justice BP Das Commission.

Now, the fate of the mega heritage project of Odisha has been hung in the balance due to a political slugfest between a group of BJP leaders and BJD Government. The issue has reached the Orissa High Court, which is yet to give any order about the project.

Senior BJP leader and Bhubaneswar MP Aparajita Sarangi had raised the issue in the Lok Sabha during the Budget session and alleged illegality in the implementation of this ambitious project being undertaken by the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD Government.

She also claimed that the State Government carried on with its construction work in prohibited areas near the Shree Jagannath temple despite the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)’s letter asking the Government to stop it.

The BJD’s Puri MP Pinaki Mishra  reacted to this plea of Ms.Sarangi in the Parliament and said, “The work is being carried out after getting an NOC from the NMA (National Monument Authority) and ASI is also a part of the project.”

Taking a swipe at Ms.Sarangi, Mr.Mishra had also said, “Many people have a crab mentality. Neither will they do anything nor will they let anyone else do anything.”

Since then, Ms.Sarangi has strongly opposed the project citing ASI and NMA had not approved the project, which is against the prevailing laws in this land.

She had announced to join the protest march of Srimandir Banchao Andolan Committee to be organised in Puri from Saradha Bali to the Srimandir on April 27. However, the District Administration has denied permission to the rally in the holy town. Now, all eyes are on the next move of the BJP MP.

Ms.Sarangi was backed by Saffron party’s senior leader Sambit Patra, who unsuccessfully fought from the Puri Lok Sabha seat in 2019. Dr.Patra is also criticising the BJD Government over the issue.  

In a Facebook post, Dr.Patra on Tuesday demanded the State Government to stop the on-going construction work near the temple.

“Without any Politics and for the sake of #OdiyaAshmita the least that can be done is to stop any on-going construction till further orders from the Odisha High Court,” he demanded.

“Allegations of indiscriminate digging, rules being flouted, safety of the temple is being compromised have been made by various sections of the society. We in BJP always stand for growth and development for extension of facilities to the devotees of Lord Jagannath,” he said.

No one in the wildest dream can think of opposing any construction that provides any benefit to the Bhakta of the Bhagawan, Dr.Patra added.

On the other hand, BJP MLA from Puri, Jayant Sarangi has also voted in favour of the project appealing the protesters to refrain from politicising the issue.

No one should do politics over Lord Jagannath. If there are concerns over the safety of Srimandir due to digging, it should be addressed in a proper manner and forum by the experts,” said senior BJP leader Krushna ChandraJagdev.

Meanwhile, a delegation of Servitors also submitted a memorandum to the District Administration demanding timely completion of the important project.

Breaking his prolong silence over the project, Puri King Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb yesterday strongly supported the project and said the Jagannath temple is totally safe and everyone should extend hands for execution of the project.

“Mahaprabhu’s work doesn’t belong to any individual, group, party..it belongs to all. Everyone’s cooperation is needed for projects being undertaken for the benefit of devotees. And it is not proper to oppose the project through demonstration and protests,” Gajapati Maharaj said.

If there is any issue or problem, it should be resolved through dialogue and mutual understanding, he suggested.  

In such a situation, all are now eagerly waiting to hear from the High Court. The court is waiting for an affidavit to be filed by the ASI. Most probably, the judgement would be based on the affidavit of ASI, which is yet to open up on this controversy.