Odisha govt constitutes new committee to open Ratna Bhandar of Sri Jagannath temple

Bhubaneswar,July 5 (UNI) The Odisha government has constituted a new committee under the chairmanship of former Orissa High Court judge Justice Biswanath Rath to supervise the process

of inventorization of valuables stored in the Ratna Bhandar of Sri Jagannath temple.

A notification issued by the Law department of Odisha government on Thursday night said the high level committee constituted on March 2 last for supervising the process of inventorization of the jewelry and other valuables of Ratna Bhandar of Sri Jagannath temple has been dissolved.

The BJD led Naveen Patnaik government had constituted a 12 member high level committee headed by former Supreme court judge Arjit Pasayat to look into the inventory of the Ratna Bhandar of the Sri Jagannath temple.

Justice Pasayat who had earlier held two meetings of the committee, arrived in Odisha on Wednesday to convene the committee meeting to discuss the issue when the government in a late night order dissolved the committee.

The Justice Pasayat committee had decided to open the Bhitar Ratna Bhandar during the absence of the deities from the main temple during the annual Rath yatra. Justice Pashayat had even studied the records of 1978 when the Bhitar Ratna bhandra was opened for inventory.

The 16 member new committee, the Law department notification said, will be headed by former Orissa high court judge Justice Biswanath Rath.The other members of the committee are noted doctor CBK Mohanty, former Odisha DGP Prakash Mishra, retired IAS Jagadish Mohanty,Padma shree Sudarshan pattnaik,Repesentatve of Sri Gajapati Maharaj, Representative of the ASI ,Chief Administrator of Sri Jagannath temple and the Puri collector ,three jagannath temple servitors and Swai Pragyananda ji .

The new committee has been constituted to supervise the Jagannath temple managing committee in carrying out the inventorization of the valuables in the Ratna Bhandar of Sri Jagannath temple.

Official sources said the new committee will meet on Saturday at the Sri Jagannath Temple Administration office at Puri to discuss the detailed modalities of opening the Ratna Bhandar of the 12th century shrine.

The BJP during the 2024 election campaign, had promised that, if voted to power in Odisha, it will open the Ratna Bhandar of the Sri Jagannath temple to carry out the inventory of the ornaments stored in the inner Ratna Bhandar of the temple, which has not been opened since 1978.

The new committee in its meeting on Saturday is all likely to finalise the date for opening of the Ratna Bhandar, which according to laser study recently conducted by the Archaeological Survey of India, is in very bad shape.

The ASI after examining the outer wall of the Ratna Bhandar for a long time had been suggesting the state government and the temple administration to open it to facilitate the repairs.

In 2018 after the Orissa high court directed it to carry out repairs and open the Bhitar Ratna Bhandar, the temple administration tried it in 2018 but was unsuccessful as the keys to the treasury were found missing.

The State government then had appointed justice Raghubir Das to inquire into the key missing incident. The commission had submitted its report which is yet to be made public.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah had promised to the people of Odisha that if voted to power in the state,the BJP will make the commission report public within six month.

The ASI conducted laser scanning of the walls of the ratna bhandar from the outside and found that it is in a bad shape and needs urgent repairs. The ASI has been entrusted by the state government for its conservation and repairs to this 12th century temple,described as a national monument since 1976.

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