Bhubaneswar, Apr 6 (PTI) The Centre has sought clarifications on certain clauses of the Odisha government’s Shri Lingaraj Temple Ordinance as it feels the proposed law is outside the competence of the state legislature as it could conflict with the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 (AMASR Act).
As the ordinance covers 12 Centrally-protected monuments, including the Shri Lingaraj Temple and three ancient tanks, the Centre is of the opinion that it is outside the “legislative competence” of the state legislature and could lead to conflict with the AMASR Act, a letter shared with the media on Tuesday read.
The Raj Bhavan received a letter from the Ministry of Home Affairs on March 23 which was forwarded to chief secretary Suresh Chandra Mohapatra on March 31.
The ordinance was passed in the state Cabinet in December 2020 to bring the Lingaraj Temple and its eight associated shrines in Bhubaneswar under a separate law.
Currently, the Lingaraj Temple is governed by the Odisha Hindu Religious Endowment Act, 1951, which is a common legislation for most shrines.
The temples and tanks, seeking to be covered under the ordinance, are centrally protected monuments.
The state’s ordinance has faced objections from the Ministries of Culture and Rural Development (Department of Land Resources).
The ordinance has provisions of forming a 15-member committee with a senior Hindu IAS officer to be appointed as its chief administrator on the lines of Jagannath Temple in Puri, which is governed by the Shri Jagannath Temple Act, 1955.
According to the 1958 Act, new constructions are not allowed in the prohibited area (100 meters from a protected monument).
Areas within 200 meters are identified as regulated area where permission from the competent authority, on recommendation from the National Monuments Authority, is required to undertake construction-related activities, including repairs.
As certain clauses of the ordinance seek to conserve and repair the temples or tanks, the Centre feels it will be in conflict with the Central act.
The Odisha Government had in 2019 unveiled the Ekamra Kshetra Development Project for development and beautification of the shrine.
Meanwhile, Odisha minister Ashok Chandra Panda strongly protested the Centre’s objection and said “The Centre can seek clarifications on the ordinance, but cannot stop it. It should clarify whether the ministries used the same yardstick for the development of Kashi Viswanath, Kedarnath and Somnath temples also.” However, BJP state president Samir Mohanty rejected Panda’s allegation and said that there is a law of the land and it should be implemented in letter and spirit. PTI AAM MM MM
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Source: The Print