BHUBANESWAR: Bhubaneswar MP Aparajita Sarangi met the Director General (DG) of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) V Vidyavathi at New Delhi on Wednesday to discuss alleged violations of Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (AMASR Act) for development of public amenities within the prohibited zone (100 mtrs) of Shri Jagannath Temple at Puri as part of the Srimandir Parikrama project.
“I am all for the development and beautification of Srimandir and Puri. But we have to follow the rules because the structural safety of the shrine must not be compromised. It is the abode of Lord Jagannath after all,” she said after meeting the ASI chief. Earlier, members of Jagannath Sena had made a representation to her in this regard.
Sarangi said, the DG ASI during her visit to Puri had cautioned the officials concerned of SJTA and Works department that work around the ancient monument cannot be carried out the way it was being done. The MP has decided to raise the issue in Parliament on Friday.
The DG ASI also informed Sarangi that she had convened a meeting with the Works department and SJTA where a presentation on the detailed project report (DPR) of Srimandir Parikrama project was made. “She told me that she asked the Works department to rework on the DPR of the Parikrama project in line with the AMASR Act, 1958 and submit it to the ASI. A presentation on the DPR will be made in New Delhi by the officials concerned,” Sarangi said.
What comes as a surprise, though, is that without approval of the revised DPR by ASI, heavy excavations are already being carried out around the Shri Jagannath temple for over a month. Ever since work on the Srimandir Parikrama project began on January 20, questions have been raised by several outfits, temple servitors and locals on the structural stability of the 12th-century monument as JCB machines are being used by Tata Projects which is executing the project to dig up the area within the 75 metre radius of the Centrally-protected shrine to set up public amenities.
Work is being carried out beyond 7 metres from the Meghnad Prachir which is the buffer zone of the temple. It has also been alleged by locals that cracks have developed in the temple due to vibrations from the earth-movers. As per AMASR Act, no new construction can come up within the prohibited zone of a Centrally-protected monument. The DG ASI had visited Puri on February 21 and reviewed the Srimandir Parikrama project.