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Twin actions: Evict & demolish

Illegal temples brought down

Unauthorised religious structures being demolished in Cuttack on Friday. Pictures by Badrika Nath Das

Cuttack, Aug. 22: The development authority today demolished illegal religious structures that had come up on government land in Markatnagar.

Mukteswar temple, Annapurna temple and a small Hanuman temple were razed in the presence of police personnel and senior officials of the Cuttack Development Authority (CDA).

The authority, which had identified 35 unauthorised religious structures, including 27 at Markatnagar ( CDA) and eight at Mahanadi Vihar, was supposed to demolish them earlier. However, the drive was stalled on August 19 due to lack of police force.

“The temples were built 15 years ago in an attempt to free the area of criminals who were using the space for various illegal activities,” said Gaurahari Mishra, priest of local Mukteswar temple.

Saroj Sethi, secretary of CDA, said that a list of unauthorised religious structures was submitted before the Orissa High Court following a survey in 2010-11. Later, the court ordered for demolition of the structures.

“Boundary wall will be constructed around the government land to keep them free of encroachers. We will soon submit an affidavit before the high court on the status and progress of the demolition drive,” Sethi said.

Earlier, structures such as Gundicha temple, Shyama Shyam Dham on Kathajodi river bank and Sai temple on the Ring Road were demolished by the revenue administration in 2013.

The high court in 2011 had ordered for demolition of unauthorised religious buildings that had come up on government land after 1987. The demolition work had to be stopped subsequently after the authorities of various temples moved Supreme Court and got a stay order.