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Centre should withdraw NMA bylaws for Ekamra Kshetra temples: Naveen Patnaik

On Monday, Union Culture and Tourism Minister Prahlad Singh Patel had announced withdrawal of the draft heritage bylaws for development around Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri, after delegations of the BJP and the ruling BJD separately met him in Delhi, seeking its withdrawal.

Odisha temples, Naveen PatnaikOdisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. (File photo)

Days after the Central government withdrew the draft heritage bylaws issued by the National Monuments Authority (NMA) for Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday demanded withdrawal of the bylaws for temples in Ekamra Kshetra area of Bhubaneswar as well.

In a statement, Patnaik appealed to MPs from Odisha to take up the matter with the Union government. “Central government should immediately withdraw the National Monuments Authority draft bylaws on Ananta Basudev and Brahmeshwar temple of Ekamra Kshetra,” he said. “It would have been appropriate for the central agencies to take the state into confidence on sensitive religious issues.”

On Monday, Union Culture and Tourism Minister Prahlad Singh Patel announced withdrawal of the draft heritage bylaws for development around Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri, after delegations of the BJP and the ruling BJD separately met him in Delhi, seeking its withdrawal. This came a day after the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) wrote to the NMA, seeking withdrawal of the January 18 draft bylaws, which prohibit any kind of construction within 100-metre radius of the temple and its subsidiary shrines.

The Ekamra Kshetra has a series of sandstone temples dating back to 3rd century BC and 15th century AD. In 2020, the state government planned a beautification project around the area spread across 1,126 acre and develop it into a major tourist attraction.

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The beautification project was recently embroiled in a controversy after the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) initiated an investigation into the demolitions conducted by the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation that allegedly damaged ancient structures of archaeological importance.

The ruling BJD has alleged that through such laws, the Central government is trying to restrain development in the state to push tourism. “With the introduction of such laws, the NMA under Union Culture Ministry and even the ASI, through its investigations, are trying to obstruct the development activities in Ekamra Kshetra,” BJD spokesperson Shreemayee Mishra said.

First published on: 13-02-2021 at 07:14:37 am
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