Odisha government officials want immediate demolition of Bada Chhata Matha and Chhauni Matha in Puri to save Sri Jagannath Temple’s Singha Dwar (lion’s gate) from imminent collapse.
According to the officials, demolition of the two buildings is also essential for the security of the 12th century temple as its premises can easily be accessed from the roof of both the buildings.
Bada Chhata Matha and Chhauni Matha are located adjacent to the outer boundary wall on the northern and southern sides of Singha Dwar respectively.
Clarifying its stand in Orissa High Court regarding demolition of the structures, the state government officials stated that many cracks had developed in the arch of the Singha Dwar.
Source : The Telegraph
“If the arch is not repaired, there is every possibility of its collapse, which will result in loss of lives. Therefore, the demolition is necessary to make it convenient to repair,” the state government stated.The high court while hearing petitions filed by Bada Chhata Matha and Chhauni Matha authorities against eviction notices issued by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had asked the state government whether their demolition was required for “safety and convenience of the temple”.
In pursuance of the order, the Puri collector submitted a report that stated: “The load of the Chaunni Math building is shifted to the Singha Dwar as it shares one of its walls with it. Even sculptures of Singha Dwar remains on the Matha premises.
“Further, the entire load of the building of Bada Chhata Matha has been transferred to the outer boundary wall of the Jagannath temple because of construction. The roof of this building is inside the boundary wall itself, thus threatening its safety”.
The report further stated: “There is no arrangement of security check on entrants into the Matha. Therefore, there is every possibility of unchecked entry of strangers to the temple premises. There are also apprehensions of trespassing into the temple premises through the roof of the Math building due to its location and construction,” Puri collector Arvind Agarwal stated in his report.
The case came up for hearing yesterday. Counsels appearing on behalf of Bada Chhata Matha and Chhauni Matha questioned the authenticity of the report.
“Taking note of it, the division bench of Justice Pradip Mohanty and Justice Indrajit Mohanty constituted its own committee to study the structures adjacent to the outer boundary wall of Jagannath temple and submit a report,” additional government counsel Sisir Das told The Telegraph.
“The committee comprising of the state endowment commissioner, chief architect and superintending archaeologist (Bhubaneswar circle) of Archaeological Survey of India,” Das said. “The Committee is expected to visit the temple on March 10 and submit a report on March 13, the date fixed for next hearing on the case,” he said.
According to the Puri collector’s report the superintending archaeologist ASI (BBSR Circle) had on January 20 had intimated the chief administrator of the Jagannath temple that the modern constructions very close to the Singha Dwar, causing damage to the structure could also be removed. These would facilitate fixing the scaffolding for repair of the structures.
Chief administrator of the temple had chaired a meeting on February 7 in the presence of technical committee regarding repair and conservation of the Singha Dwar arch. The Superintending Archaeologist of ASI (BBSR Circle) stated that on inspection of Singh Dwar arch it is noticed that the Lintel stone has developed cracks and the gumitta has a hole and it needs complete conservation to make it stable.
The ASI had also intimated that because of the extra construction existing on either side of Singha Dwar, the inspection of the arch and its repair work was hampered. Additional weight imposed because of construction was also dangerous. “We have decided to take steps to remove illegal construction conflicting with the temple structure,” the Puri collector stated in his report.