BHUBANESWAR: The State Government's ambitious Ekamra Kshetra heritage project that envisages all-round development and beautification of the periphery of Lingaraj Temple in Old Town has hit a roadblock as the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) has objected to the work being done by the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Odisha Bridge Construction Corporation (OBCC) without their permission.
The ASI Bhubaneswar circle has asked both the BMC and OBCC to seek approval from the Director General of ASI, New Delhi for the execution of any developmental work within the area of Ekamra Kshetra.
The ASI Bhubaneswar Circle in its letter to the BMC commissioner Prem Chandra Chaudhary wrote that a total of 26 Centrally Protected Monuments (CPMs) are located within the area earmarked for the Ekamra Kshetra. "The JCB machines involved in the process are damaging the monuments like Sari Deul Temple," the letter stated.
The BMC and OBCC are carrying out peripheral developmental works in the prohibited and regulated area of these CPMs without obtaining prior permission of the competent authority, it further charged.
Priests at Lingraj Temple are lighting 10,000 lamps after Govt. Of Odisha initiated the Temple Act,which was initially implemented at the Sri Jagannth Temple,Puri #LingarajTemple #OldTown #Odisha #Bhubaneswar #India @NewIndianXpress @XpressOdisha pic.twitter.com/67UC92sGeB— SHIBA (@shibasahu2012) December 14, 2020
ASI superintending archaeologist (Bhubaneswar Circle) Arun Mallick said that as per the Ancient Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, 100 metres in all directions from a protected monument will remain a prohibited area and up to 200 metres around such monument is a regulated area.
"Repairs or renovation works in such areas are allowed only in extraordinary cases after obtaining no-objection certificate from the National Monument Authority/State Director of Culture," he said.
Acting on the communique, the works department has now asked the OBCC to seek approval from the authorities concerned before going ahead with the project.
The BMC officials, however, said that they are yet to go through the ASI letter. Besides, they also stated that permission wasn't required for land acquisition and eviction.
"The development work in the area hasn't started yet. Currently, we are acquiring land for the project and removing the encroachments only," the municipal commissioner said.
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An official in the BMC's land acquisition wing said that 90 per cent of land has already been acquired for the project, while efforts are on to acquire another 10 per cent (around two acres of land) close to the temple for construction of an alternative road.
"The locals have agreed to offer the land and the acquisition is expected to be completed by the month-end," he said.