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Panel tells govt to fence off Lingaraj row
- Endowment Commission submits report to resolve ongoing dispute over protection of deity

Bhubaneswar, Aug. 18: The Endowment Commission, which looks into the affairs of temples and maths, in its report to the government has stated that a fence could end the dispute at the 11th century Lingaraj temple.

“We have submitted a detailed report to the government,” said endowment commissioner Chakradhar Kar. However, he did not divulge details of the report.

Admitting that he had received the report, law secretary Debabrata Das said: “We will place it before the government for a final decision on it.”

Though Kar and Das were not ready to speak about the details of the report, sources said the commission had advised the government on the need to put a grille around the ‘Linga’ inside the sanctum sanctorum.

“Only a grille can protect the ‘Linga’ and prevent people from touching it,” the report says.

Before finalising the report, the panel had spoken to former and present officials of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and experts in monument preservation.

Controversy had cropped up last month after the Lingaraj temple administration, with help from the ASI, had put up an iron grille around the ‘Linga’. The structure was later dismantled as some sevayats opposed it and even went on strike.

The issue has left the sevayats divided. Things took a new twist after one of them was found murdered on August 8.

The administration geared up to streamline the affairs of the famous temple. Following the commission’s directive, the temple administration called an meeting yesterday.

“It was decided that temple rituals would not be stopped at any cost,” said temple administrator Abani Patnaik.

He further said a showcause notice was served on six sevayats yesterday. They would have to explain the reason for stopping puja during their strike on July 10 and August 7.

“They have been told to reply within seven days. If we are not satisfied with their reply, the administration will recommend action against them,” he said.

In another development, the administration has decided to expedite steps to retrieve the encroached acres. Most of Lord Lingaraj’s 1,500 acres are encroached. “Our efforts have hiked temple’s earning to Rs 2.7 crore,” Patnaik said.

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Bharat Matrimonial 21012010