Shankaracharya asks for protection of Puri's `spiritual identity'
The administration should stop implementing its plan immediately, the statement said.Ruling BJD spokesperson Lenin Mohanty in an apparent counter-statement said the Srimandir Parikrama Project was prepared and recommended by the Srimandir Managing Committee with all plans out in the public domain.
He urged both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to ensure a halt to ''destruction'' of heritage ''under the grab of development''. The Puri seer’s statement, released through a video message, came a day after separate delegations of the state government headed by Dibyasingha Deb, former ruler of Puri and another group of leaders and cultural activists met him. The Shankaracharya on May 23 had also released a similar video where he expressed deep concern over alleged damages to the 12th century shrine in the name of development. “The Prime Minister and Chief Minister should give attention to the fact that the Puri is being ruined in the name of development. Mutts are being demolished for widening roads ... (this) is not right. The administration should stop implementing its plan immediately,” the statement said.
Ruling BJD spokesperson Lenin Mohanty in an apparent counter-statement said the Srimandir Parikrama Project was prepared and recommended by the Srimandir Managing Committee with all plans out in the public domain. He pointed out that the National Monument Authority (NMA) gave all required permissions and it was passed by the Odisha assembly unanimously.
“The administration should also express regret over damages done to the places of worship and ensure that these kind of steps are not taken in future. Narayan.. Narayan…,” the Shankaracharya said in the video. While expressing deep anguish over the way the state government’s Puri Heritage Corridor Project is being implemented, the seer said ''all are in favour of development, but we do not want the heritage site to lose its identity'' in the name of development. It is not acceptable to destroy heritages in the name development, he said. Referring to the ruling BJD, which has been ruling the state for over two decades in Odisha, the Shankaracharya said, the administration should not think of itself as all-powerful because the public mandate may change any time.
''Odisha people have trust in this government ... But people's opinion may change,'' the seer cautioned without talking name of BJD. Puri should not be made a centre of 'sura-sundari', the seer said adding that the sea beach, which is the place of meditation has already become a place for “sura-sundari” (wine and women). He also warned the people that tarnishing image of the “Puri-dham” and attack on its spiritual ideal may invite trouble for the entire state. Immediately after the Shankaracharya’s statement, the opposition BJP and Congress rallied against the government and demanded immediate stop of the ongoing corridor project work. Odisha unit of BJP termed the corridor project work as “illegal” as permission from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has not been taken and demanded suspension of all works. The government has never been transparent in its plan for the project, said BJP spokesperson Jatin Mohanty.
BJD spokesperson Mohanty asserted the plan was prepared and public opinion elicited. Thereafter, the plan was recommended by the Managing Committee. The Srimandir Parikrama Plan was then taken to the people of Odisha in the Odisha Legislative Assembly, where it was passed unanimously by all MLAs without any opposition, it said.
He also said the ''ASI gave certain suggestions which were duly incorporated and modifications done (to the plan) accordingly.'' PTI AAM JRC JRC
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