By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, September 21, 2022: The National Monument Authority (NMA) has issued no objection certificates (NoCs) to the Odisha government for its development and beautification projects at Jagannath Temple in Puri, Lingaraj Temple in Bhubaneswar and Sun Temple at Konark, but with riders.

The NMA’s NoCs have ended the controversy over the alleged illegal construction near the Shree Jagannath Reception Centre close to the 12th-century shrine in Puri, but the new structures will have to be moved slightly away from the earlier site, a state government official said.

Cases were filed in the high court against the “irregularities” as petitioners claimed that construction work for the project has affected the health of the temple.

Puri Collector Samarth Varma said, “We have received NoC for the heritage corridor from the National Monument Authority. Now the work will resume in full steam.”

One of the responsibilities of the NMA, which functions under the Ministry of Culture, is to consider grant of permissions to applicants for construction-related activity in prohibited and regulated areas.

The Sree Jagannath reception centre will now come up in the regulated zone of the monument instead of in the prohibited zone.

“The Authority recommended grant of NoC for construction of Shree Jagannatha Reception Centre in the regulated area at a distance of 101.50 meters from the protected monument,” said the NMA document.

According to the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, the area within 100 meters of a monument is a ‘prohibited’ zone while that within 200 meters falls under the ‘regulated’ category.

However, the state government had earlier planned to set up the reception centre within the prohibited zone.

The NMA put general conditions for the heritage projects saying that all new structures to be constructed should be non-intrusive and devoid of any heavy architecture, undertake temporary structures wherever possible, and use of heavy machinery for digging work should be avoided.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik along with Puri’s titular king Gajapati Dibya Singha Deb had last year laid the foundation stone for the project which seeks to provide better amenities to pilgrims, including toilets and cloakrooms.

In the face of protest and opposition, the state government submitted a fresh proposal for the reception centre and sought permission to shift the proposed structure to the regulated zone from the prohibited zone in April.

The NMA took the decision at a meeting held on September 9.

This apart, the NMA has also issued NoC to execute developmental works in the prohibited zone of the 11th century Lingaraj Temple in Bhubaneswar. The Odisha Bridge & Construction Corporation (OBCC) had submitted a revised Detailed Project Report (DPR) with NMA.

Construction of a heritage park and entrance plaza and some other items for the temple have also been approved.

Similarly, the NMA has also allowed construction of a foot overbridge, transit hub, boulevard, landscaped plaza and information centre in the regulated area at the Konark Sun temple, 13th century World Heritage Site.

The NMA said that the works would have to be executed under the supervision of the Archeological Survey of India to mitigate any adverse impact on the protected monuments.

BJP MP of Bhubaneswar, Aparajita Sarangi, who had raised the issue of “illegal construction” at Jagannath temple in Lok Sabha thanked the NMA for asking the Odisha government to shift the reception centre to the regulated zone from the prohibited area.

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