Puri: The Odisha government today granted permission for opening Sri Mandir’s Ratna Bhandar (store house of valuables).
According to reports, the Law department has granted conditional permission to the Sri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) to open Shree Jagannath Temple’s Ratna Bhandar for inspection by experts of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to assess its structural stability and safety.
“I have left office but I have been informed that the Temple Administration office has received a one-page fax message from Law department. I am told that permission has been granted for opening Ratna Bhandar but I don’t have the details of the conditions imposed. I will go through the details when I reach office tomorrow,” informed Pradip Kumar Jena, SJTA Chief Administrator answering to queries of reporters this evening.
Modalities to be adopted for opening of Ratna Bhandar will be discussed and worked out at a meeting of the Chhatisa Nijog (apex body of temple servitors) scheduled to be held on March 29.
“Two days back I have already said that we will hold a meeting of the Chhatisa Nijog and discuss on the standard operating procedure (SOP) to be adopted at the time which will be put in the public domain through your cooperation,” Jena added addressing reporters.
On being asked what precautions will be taken before opening Ratna Bhandar, the SJTA Chief Administrator said: “I again tell you that I have not gone through the conditions laid down in the letter issued by the State government. Well certainly precautionary measures will be undertaken.”
Earlier yesterday, Jena had clarified that no assessment of the ornaments or valuables kept inside the Ratna Bhandar will be undertaken and only visual inspection of its roof and walls will be done.
Notably, the Orissa High Court on March 22 had ordered the ASI to inspect the structural condition of the Ratna Bhandar on March 26 and 27 and submit a status report on March 29.
The High Court’s directive had come in response to an affidavit filed by the SJTA Chief citing that inspection of the Ratna Bhandar was necessary before reopening of Jagamohana for the public.
The ASI which had undertaken repair and conservation work of the Jagamohana has informed the court that repair work has been completed and had prayed the High Court to open it for the devotees.
A five-member team of ASI officials yesterday inspected the status of the Ratna Bhandar from outside, in line with the instruction of the High Court, and said that the outer portion is in good condition.
It’s worth mentioning here that the High Court is monitoring the repair work of the Sri Mandir in response to a PIL seeking judicial intervention for repair and renovation of the temple.