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Demolition order stands

- Jagannath temple priests fail to convince high court

Cuttack, March 21: Orissa High Court today directed the demolition of a building of the Puri Jagannath temple from where a priests’ body, Pratihari Nijog Anand Bhog Committee, has been functioning.

The three-storey building is located on a plot adjacent to the 12th century temple’s meganada pacheri (outer boundary wall) between the main entrance of the temple and Bada Chhata Mutt.

The temple administration had decided to demolish portions of the building after the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) pointed out that it posed a threat to the main entrance. Pratihari Nijog Anand Bhog Committee filed a petition seeking the high court’s intervention against it.

“In an interim order, the division bench of Chief Justice C. Nagappan and Justice Pradip Mohanty today directed that the height of the building (where Pratihari Nijog Anand Bhog Committee officiates) be brought down to five metres,” Jagannath Temple Administration counsel Biswanath Rath told The Telegraph.

While giving the interim direction, the court expected the Jagannath temple administration and the ASI to proceed to measure the building on March 29 in the presence of Pratihari Nijog Anand Bhog Committee members and demolish the structure as required. In a report submitted to the Puri temple administration, the ASI had pointed out that the building from which Pratihari Nijog was functioning, needed demolition for repair of the temple’s main entrance. The structure and the main entrance share a wall and room beams are inserted in the main gate. As a result, cracks have appeared on the gate.

In July 2012, the ASI had proceeded with the demolition process on grounds that it posed a threat to the gate. The authorities had started the process by setting up scaffolding on the structure.

However, the Pratihari priests had resorted to a dharna demanding revocation of the demolition decision.

Subsequently, the Pratihari Nijog Anand Bhog Committee filed a petition seeking a high court intervention against it.

On March 15, 2012, the high court had ordered the demolition of portions of Chauni Mutt to facilitate repair work of the main gate. On March 19, 2012, the court had ordered demolition of portions of the Badachatta Mutt for safety of the Puri Jagannath temple and its outer boundary wall.