Bhubaneswar, Feb 15 (PTI) The Odisha government on Monday urged the Centre to withdraw the National Monuments Authority (NMA) draft bylaws for Ananta Basudev and Brahmeswar temples in Ekamra Kshetra here, a week after the Centre rolled back the rules for Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri.
In a letter, the state Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mohapatra made the request to Union Culture Secretary Raghvendra Singh, citing apprehension of widespread agitation if immediate action was not taken.
Mentioning that the NMA had in January published a notification of draft heritage bylaws for Shree Jagannath temple at Puri, and Ananta Basudev and Brahmeswar temples of Ekamra Kshetra, Bhubaneswar, Mohapatra pointed out that it had generated discontentment among servitors, devotees and people as these temples host living deities and the publication was done without any consultation with stakeholders.
'In view of this, the heritage bylaws relating to Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri have been withdrawn by NMA,' the chief secretary wrote in the letter.
However, the rules for the Ekamra Kshetra temples here have not been rolled back yet, causing distress to the sevayats, people at large and devotees, Mohapatra said.
The Ekamra Kshetra has a series of sandstone temples dating back to 3rd century BC and 15th century AD.
The bylaws prohibit and regulate constructions within 100 to 300 metre radius of the monuments that are protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archaelogical Sites and Remains Act-2010.
In 2020, the state government had planned a beautification project around the Ekamra Kshetra area and develop it into a major tourist attraction.
The chief secretary also said that there have been frequent agitations regarding non-withdrawal of the draft notifications.
'There is serious apprehension that this will lead to widespread agitation and disturb the daily rituals in the temples.
'This kind of atmosphere in temples is bound to hurt the religious sentiments of lakhs of devotees. The largest congregation of devotees in Ekamra Kshetra will happen on March 11 on the occasion of Maha Shivratri festival,' Mohapatra said.
It is important to have a peaceful atmosphere and full cooperation of servitors for conducting the festival in which lakhs of devotees participate, the chief secretary said.
The top official also urged the NMA to hold consultation with stakeholders, including sevayats, temple administration, and the state government on the sensitive religious issue.
'The state government is committed for constructive cooperation,' Mohapatra said.
Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who hails from the state, had on Saturday requested the chief secretary to examine every point of the draft bylaws and write a letter to the Secretary of Culture Ministry, listing the objections. PTI AAM MM MM