Amid political slugfest, Patnaik demands NMA bylaws withdrawal for Bhubaneswar temples

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Bhubaneswar, Feb 12 (PTI) Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday urged the Centre to immediately withdraw the notification for the draft heritage bylaws of the National Monuments Authority for two major temples in Bhubaneswar.

The proposed bylaws prohibit any kind of construction within a radius of 100 metres of an archaeological site, jeopardising the Odisha government's plan to develop the Lingaraj Temple and its surroundings, known as Ekamra Kshetra, as a heritage site at a cost of Rs 700 crore.

'Central Govt should immediately withdraw the National Monuments Authority Draft Bylaws on Ananta Basudev & Brahmeswar Temple of #EkamraKshetra. It would have been appropriate for the Central agencies to take the State into confidence on sensitive religious issues,' the chief minister tweeted.

Patnaik urged the MPs from the state to take up the matter with Union Culture Minister Prahlad Patel as it involves the sentiments of lakhs of devotees of Odisha, besides the lives and livelihood of priests.

The Centre had earlier exempted the Jagannath Temple in Puri from the bylaws.

The issue has led to a political slugfest in the state with ruling BJD, and opposition Congress and BJP training guns at each other.

The Jagannath Temple in Puri was exempted after the chief minister raised the issue and separate delegations of BJD and BJP MPs met Patel.

Patnaik's tweets came a day after 'missing posters', seeking to find Bhubaneswar MP Aparajita Sarangi of the BJP surfaced in the state capital. The posters questioned her silence over the issue.

The servitors who live in the adjoining areas of the temples said that they would be severely affected if the bylaws are implemented.

'We cannot construct or repair our houses due to the proposed laws. If the servitors do not live close to temples, the rituals will be affected,' said a servitor of the Lingaraj Temple.

Hundreds of people gathered in front of Lingaraj Temple and lit diyas, demanding immediate withdrawal of the draft bylaws.

The Congress also held a demonstration in the state capital, demanding their withdrawal.

The BJP claimed that there was an attempt by the state government to mislead the people of Odisha on the issue. PTI AAM SOM SOM