Patnaik demands withdrawal of NMA bylaws, BJD & BJP MPs meet Union Culture minister

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Bhubaneswar/Puri, Feb 8 (PTI) Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik Monday urged the Centre to withdraw draft bylaw notification issued by National Monuments Authority (NMA) which prohibits any developmental work within 100 meters radius of Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri.

With the NMAs notification sparking a strong resentment across the state, a delegation of BJP and BJD MPs separately met Union Culture Minister Prahlad Singh Patel, who assured them that the order would be taken back.

'Nobody can stop the work of Lord Jagannath. The central government should withdraw the bylaw notification,' Patnaik told reporters in Puri on his maiden visit to the 12th century shrine after the restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 pandemic were removed.

The chief minister thanked the local people of Puri who have sacrificed their lands for the Shree Jagannath Heritage Corridor (SJHC) project for the beautification and enhancing security of the areas around the temple.

The state government has been carrying out the development projects 75 meters from the Puri temple boundary wall for which the people have donated their land.

Meanwhile, after meeting Patel in the national capital, Union Minister Pratap Sarangi said the central government has no such intention to put restrictions on the developmental works being carried out around the temple.

'Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a devotee of Lord Jagannath and he would not allow anyone to create problem in Puri,' a BJP statement quoting Sarangi said.

Sarangi also said that the issuance of the NMA draft bylaw communique was a 'bureaucratic error' which has been released 'by mistake' and 'it will be withdrawn soon'.

Another delegation of the BJD MPs also met Union Culture Minister in Parliament demanding termination of the NMA draft by-law for Puri.

'The Union Minister has assured the BJD delegation that it would be withdrawn. We met the minister as per direction of the chief minister,' said one of the members of the delegation.

Earlier, the state government, Odisha two major political parties-BJD and BJP- and servitors of Lord Jagannath temple in Puri had strongly objected to the NMAs draft heritage byelaws which bans any construction activity in the 100 metre periphery of the world famous shrine.

The NMA under the Union Ministry of Culture has published the draft heritage byelaws of the centrally protected monument and subsidiary shrines together with adjacent areas in Puri in its website and has invited suggestions and comments from the public till February 18.

The National Monuments Authority said the draft heritage bylaws have been prepared as per Section 20(E) of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act,2010 and Rule 18 of National Monuments Authority (Appointment, Function and Conduct of Business) Rules, 2011.

The Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) in a letter to the member secretary of the NMA made a request to annul the notification immediately 'to protect the interest of the Lords, sevaks and devotees at large.' 'I request you to immediately withdraw the draft notification under reference. If National Monuments Authority is still of the considered view that any further regulatory framework of any nature is required.

'And further the cause of 'Mula Peetha' (original seat) of Shree Jagannath) at Puri, you are invited for a detailed consultation and discussion with members of Shree Jagannath Temple Management Committee (SJTMC) before any such fresh attempt is made,' SJTA chief administrator Krishan Kumar said in a letter to the NMA member secretary. PTI COR AAM SNS SNS