PURI: Objections have been raised to the felling of trees in Jagannath Ballav mutt by Odisha Bridge Construction Corporation (OBCC) despite the Orissa Hight Court directing the Chief Secretary to take a decision on the matter within four months.
Activist Jagannath Bastia on Friday accused OBCC of chopping down over 200 trees on the premises of the mutt, considered the pleasure garden of Lord Jagannath, and urged Chief Secretary Asit Kumar Tripathy to act on his petition as per the direction of High Court.
On November 18 last, the court had directed the Chief Secretary to consider Bastia’s petition in accordance with law within four months. Though the petition is still pending with office of the Chief Secretary, OBCC has allegedly felled trees in the mutt, Bastia said.
On September 5, Bastia had filed a petition with the Chief Secretary stating that Jagannath Ballav mutt, spreading over 41 acre in the heart of the town, is religiously connected with the nitees and rituals of Lord Jagannath. It has 23 ponds used to conduct rituals of the deities and also by locals. The mutt has a herbal garden used by the deities.
As per the heritage corridor plan of the administration, the mutt complex will be converted into a multi-level parking, meditation centre, commercial market complex and craft centre at a cost of about `190 crore, which would put an end to the garden and fill up the water bodies. This, Bastia says, will have an adverse impact on the groundwater table.
However, when no response came even after two months, Bastia approached the High Court. Hearing the PIL, Chief Justice KS Jhaveri and Justice KR Mahapatra directed the Chief Secretary to dispose of Bastia’s petition within four months.