Odisha: Justice Rath panel meets, decision on opening Ratna Bhandar on July 9

Justice Rath said standard operating procedures (SOPs) will be prepared in consultation with all stakeholders for opening of Ratna Bhandar.
Retired Orissa High Court Justice Biswanath Rath
Retired Orissa High Court Justice Biswanath Rath

BHUBANESWAR: The high level committee reconstituted under the chairmanship of retired Orissa High Court Justice Biswanath Rath to supervise the inventorisation of valuables including jewellery stored in the Ratna Bhandar by the Shree Jagannath Temple Managing Committee will take a final decision on the opening of the treasury on July 9.

Talking to mediapersons after the first meeting of the committee held in the temple conference hall at Puri, Justice Rath said standard operating procedures (SOPs) will be prepared in consultation with all stakeholders for opening of Ratna Bhandar. The SOPs will be approved by the state government.

“The SOPs will recommend the procedure for opening of Ratna Bhandar and follow-up measures for reinventorisation of the valuables, repair of the inner chamber of the Bhandar, safe upkeep of the jewellery during the repair works and related issues to the state government for consideration and necessary action,” Justice Rath said.

Going by the reports of the previous committee headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat and the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) placed before the new panel, duplicate keys of the Ratna Bhandar are available with the district treasury. “We are told that the duplicate keys are in the district treasury. The chief administrator of SJTA will produce the keys in the next meeting,” he said.

“The reports suggest that the inner chamber of the Ratna Bhandar has not been opened for several decades. It was further reported that attempts were made to open the lock but in vain. If the lock did not open by the duplicate keys then, there is no option but to break it,” he added.

Justice Rath said, an SOP for breaking open the lock with approval of the government will be charted out by the chief administrator. Similarly, plans for repair of the Ratna Bhandar will have to be chalked out by the managing committee.

Apart from matching the list of items with the last count, Justice Rath said, the jewellery will be measured and weighed by competent persons mostly goldsmiths and other experts who have adequate knowledge on ancient ornaments of deities. “It is for the managing committee to constitute a panel of experts to verify the ornaments, their antiquity and original character. An SOP in this regard will also be prepared,” he added.

In case, decision is taken for repair of the Ratna Bhandar, safe shifting of the ornaments and valuables within and their storage will be an issue. The managing committee will give its suggestion for safe storage of the ornaments after due deliberation, Justice Rath said.

He said all the members of committee except international sand artist Sudarsan Pattanik were present. Pattnaik could not attend the meeting as he has gone abroad.

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