BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra on Tuesday slammed the Odisha government over the construction activities undertaken as part of the Srimandir Parikrama project or heritage corridor project around the Jagannath temple in Puri.
Highlighting the observations made by the Orissa High Court during a hearing in this case on Monday, Patra said the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), in its affidavit, informed the court that the competent authority did not give valid permission or NOC to the ongoing construction work for the Shrimandir Parikrama project.
Raising questions over the presentation of different detailed project reports (DPRs) by the state government, Patra said, “Different DPRs were presented at different times. Why? To confuse? No one with the right intention would ever try to confuse others.”
Quoting the HC order, the BJP leader said the state government-appointed Advocate General A.K. 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 area, where no construction activities except toilet, drainage and electricity supply can be taken up,” 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 might have been destroyed during the construction process. This is indeed a black day for every Odia,” the BJP leader said.
Patra also criticised BJD MP from Puri, Pinaki Misra, who had stated in the 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 shed its arrogance and accept the fact that it has erred.
He further stated that the future generations would not forgive the present government for having possibly destroyed the archeological remains of “our greatest heritage”.
However, he maintained that “we are neither against development nor the beautification of the world heritage site, but the law of the land should be followed which was not done in this case”.
Similarly, Bhubaneswar MP Aparajita Sarangi said in a Twitter post, “After the 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.”
If the structures are declared illegal tomorrow, who will be responsible for the wastage of hundreds of crores of rupees which is the hard-earned money of Odias, Sarangi asked.
Reacting to Patra, BJD MP Pinaki Misra said, “As per the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act, construction of toilet, drainage and electrical work does not come under the purview of the Act. So these activities can be carried out. And, the NMA had also given NOC for the construction activities.”
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 of the ASI monument after taking due permission from the competent authority.
Moreover, the high court 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, he added.