BHUBANESWAR: Even as the State government is scurrying for cover over the controversial decision to sell landed property belonging to Lord Jagannath, the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) has come to its rescue by claiming that reports published in a section of the press are false and motivated.
As the Opposition BJP launched a scathing attack on the government on the emotive issue, SJTA Chief Administrator Krishan Kumar urged the people of the State and millions of devotees of Lord Jagannath not to be misguided by such malicious lies and false reporting.
Taking to the official twitter handle of the temple administration, SJTA chief said, “It has been falsely reported that 35,000 acre of land of Lord Jagannath is being sold. This is complete distortion of facts and is blatantly false and motivated.” The temple administrator said lands, which are occupied or are under possession of various persons since long but belongs to Shree Jagannath Mahaprabhu, are being settled by temple committee as per the ‘Unified Policy’ framed for the purpose in 2003 with an objective to protect the temple land.
This policy also aimed to bring transparency and uniformity in the processes to be followed for settlement of land to the eligible persons. The SJTA chief further said 291 acre of temple land has been settled from 2001 to 2010, while another 96 acre was settled from 2011 to 2021. These lands were settled for the benefit of the public mostly in the form of schools, medical college and roads.
Decisions regarding the allotment of land for such public benefit infrastructure projects to government and others are taken by the Jagannath Temple Committee. “It is again reiterated that the report on 35,000 acre of land of Shree Jagannath Mahaprabhu will be sold, is totally false and motivated,” the chief administrator said.
In a written reply to a question of BJP lawmaker Mohan Charan Majhi, Law Minister Pratap Jena had informed the Assembly on Monday that the government has initiated steps to sell 34,876.983 acre of land of the temple as per the recommendations of a committee headed by former Governor BD Sharma and the ‘Unified Policy’ prepared for the purpose.