BHUBANESWAR: Puri Shankaracharya Nischalananda Saraswati has now joined issue with the State government over the Srimandir heritage corridor project and raised objections to the ongoing works around the Jagannath temple.
The Puri seer, who visited the project site along with his disciples on Sunday, said, “After coming here, I came to know that the architects are of the opinion that the ongoing construction activities will definitely harm the temple. If that is true, what is going on is not proper,” he said.
Criticising the State government for the controversy surrounding the project, he said that governments are known to convert ‘tapobhumi’ to ‘bhogbhumi’ and tourist centres. The government should have started the project after consulting architects, engineers and experts. The buildings coming up near the temple will also hide the shrine, he said.
The Shankaracharya also expressed his unhappiness over the fact that the administration did not consult him on the project. “The project was implemented in my absence, but the administration could have discussed it with me,” he added.
Meanwhile, the late night GPRS survey conducted near the temple has added fresh fire to the controversy with the Opposition training guns on the government. BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra came down heavily on Puri MP Pinaki Mishra for “allegedly lying” on the GPRS survey. “If GPRS was already done as per the statement of Mishra, then what is going on now for the last two nights,” he asked.
Patra questioned whether ASI has been informed about the midnight survey by the government. “If it has not been informed, it is again illegal. The State government and Mishra are trying to fool the people of the State. He should explain this to the people without resorting to personal abuse,” he added.
Supporting Patra, BJP MP from Bhubaneswar Aparajita Sarangi said, “The government has realised that it has done wrong and is now trying to cover up.The Bhubaneswar MP said if there was nothing wrong with the project, why did the government decide to shift the reception centre beyond 100 metres of the protected area and reduce the height of the temple administration office building.
Leader of the Congress Legislature Party Narasingha Mishra also hit out at the government over the issue. “Dacoits and thieves do things in the night,” Mishra said and added that those who have something to hide work in the night. “What is the harm in conducting the survey in the day? Why is the Assembly committee still not visiting the site,” he questioned.
The ruling BJD too hit back at the Opposition alleging the BJP was politicising the issue. “Sevayats who had donated their land and devotees of Lord Jagannath will never forgive him for obstructing the Srimandir project by repeatedly making false and misleading statements. You know that GPRS study was done earlier and submitted with the DPR to the National Monument Authority (NMA). You still are trying to mislead the people of Puri,” she said.
Deo said that the NMA had permitted the reception centre with lower height but since the government wanted to make it higher, they shifted it to the regulated zone. “Stop playing electoral politics with Srimandir project, there are many other issues to do politics on,” she said.