By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, July 05, 2024: Odisha has formed a fresh high-level committee to supervise the reopening of Ratna Bhandar at Puri’s Jagannath temple for repair and inventory of valuables. State Law Minister Prithiviraj Harichandan, in a press conference on Thursday night, said the panel was formed in accordance with the direction of the Orissa High Court.

In March, the previous BJD government had formed a 12-member committee led by retired Supreme Court judge Arijit Pasayat to supervise the inventory of jewellery and other valuables stored in the Ratna Bhandar.

The BJP government dissolved the Justice Pasayat-led panel and formed the fresh committee.

“A high-level committee is hereby reconstituted, under the chairmanship of Justice Biswanath Rath, to supervise the Shree Jagannath Temple Managing Committee in carrying out the inventorisation of valuables including jewellery stored in the Ratna Bhandar,” a notification issued by the Law Department said.

The 16-member new committee headed by former judge of Orissa High Court, Justice Biswanath Rath, will hold its meeting in Puri on July 6 to decide the date for the opening of the Ratna Bhandar and prepare modalities for the repair of the inner chamber and inventory of valuables stored inside it, Harichandan said.

The minister said the panel will also decide which external agencies will be involved to examine the quality of the valuables stored in the treasury of the 12th-century shrine.

As per recommendation of the committee, the state government will decide its future course of action for reopening of the Ratna Bhandar, he said.

The chief administrator of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) has been appointed a member convenor of the committee while Puri Collector, sand artiste Sudarsan Pattanaik, representative of Gajapati Maharaj, representatives of ASI, and former Odisha DGP Prakash Mishra are other members of the panel.

While disposing of a PIL on September 29, 2023, filed by BJP leader Samir Mohanty on the safety of Ratna Bhandar, the high court directed the government to form a high-level committee.

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