Odisha Govt rules out any plan to open Ratna Bhandar

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By Our Correspondent

BHUBANESWAR/PURI: With Oppositions BJP and Congress demanding to open the Ratna Bhandar of Shree Lord Jagannath Temple in Puri, Odisha Government on Tuesday ruled out any plan to open the Bhandar. Earlier Leader of Oppositions, Pradipta Kumar Naik had written to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik demanding to open the Ratna Bhandar.

While replying to Congress Jatni MLA Suresh Kumar Routray, Odisha Law Minister Pratap Jena in the State Assembly said that the State government has no plans to open the Ratna Bhandar of Shree Jagannath temple in Puri and make an inventory of the Ratnas (precious stones) stored there.

Besides, the Minister assured the House that precious jewellery and ornaments of the deities of the shrine are safe and secured. The Law Minister said inside chamber of the Ratna Bhandar was opened in 1985 and a total of 454 gold and 236 silver jewellery along with other valuables were found in it.However, eight gold idols, six silver utensils and idols could not be weighed due to some reasons, said the Minister.

Routray wanted to know when the government had last opened the Ratna Bhandar and how many Ratnas were found in it. He also asked why the State government is not opening the temple treasury again and raised concern over the safety of the Ratnas.

“In presence of a sitting judge of Orissa High Court, Chief Secretary, DGP and servitors the temple treasury must be opened. People have rights to know the details of the valuables there. Otherwise apprehension is being made that temple staff might have looted the valuables,” said Routray.

The legislator further said Congress members will raise the issue in the House tomorrow as well.In his reaction, BJP legislator Bishnu Sethi said the State government is afraid that people will know the reality about the temple treasury. “After brahma fiasco and missing of the Ratna Bhandar key, opening of the Ratna Bhadnar might put the State government into trouble,” said Sethi adding that the Supreme Court’s directive should be implemented.Following the Opposition ruckus over the issue, Speaker SN Patro adjourned the proceedings of the House till Wednesday.

As per the rules, audit of the ornaments should be conducted in presence of the chief administrator of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA), two members of the temple management committee, district Collector, SP and Puri King or his representative. If any deviation is noticed from the list handed over by ancestors of the Gajapati Maharaja, then a separate list will be prepared.

The ornaments that are not being used are to be kept in the inner chamber of the Ratna Bhandar with two locks that will be sealed and the keys are to be submitted by the temple administration at the government treasury. The locks can only be opened with special permission of the State government.

Similarly, the chamber containing the ornaments used during festivals will also be secured with two locks. One of the keys should be with the chief administrator of SJTA and the other with Pattajoshi Mohapatra. The keys of the chamber containing the ornaments adorned by the Trinity during daily rituals should be with the Bhandar Mekap.

As per the Shree Jagannath Temple Act, 1955 and Shree Jagannath Temple Rules, 1960, the security of Ratna Bhandar is not the responsibility of the Puri King, said Acharya.

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