CUTTACK: The controversy over constructions undertaken within the 100 mtr radius of Jagannath temple in violation of AMASR Act under Puri Heritage Corridor project took a legal turn on Friday with the Orissa High Court accepting a PIL on the issue and seeking a reply from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) by April 18.
The ASI had last month written to the Odisha government warning of potential threats to the structural safety of the 12th century shrine due to the ongoing construction work.The issue reached the court with Dilip Kumar Baral, a resident of Puri town, filing a petition seeking its intervention into the construction for public amenities that would come up within 75 mtr radius of the temple. The AMASR Act prohibits any new constructions within the 100 mtr of the Centrally-protected monument of national importance.
Answering queries from the court, the petitioner counsel Anup Kumar Mohapatra on the basis of media reports stated that giant earth-moving machines and excavators are being used for digging activities close to the temple. He sought a stay order on the ongoing construction work.
Advocate General AK Parija, appearing on behalf of the State government and Shri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA), stated that the National Monument Authority (NMA) had issued a no objection certificate (NOC) for the work. The constructions included a cloak room, mini cloak room, sevayat room, toilets for men, women and servitors, shelter pavilion and pavement area, etc.
Taking note of it, the two-judge bench of Chief Justice S Muralidhar and Justice RK Pattanaik asked Assistant Solicitor General of India Prasanna Kumar Parhi, who appeared on behalf of ASI, to take instructions on the apprehensions expressed by the petitioner and file an affidavit. The bench posted the matter to April 21 for hearing and directed the ASI to file the affidavit three days prior to it. “It will be open to the ASI to take a joint inspection of the construction activities going on in the Jagannath temple complex area after advance information to the temple authorities,” the bench added.