Panel recommends reopening of Puri Jagannath temple's 'Ratna Bhandar' on July 14

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Bhubaneswar, Jul 9 (PTI) The high-level committee, set up to supervise the listing of jewellery and other valuable items stored in 'Ratna Bhandar' (treasury) of Puri Jagannath temple, on Tuesday recommended the reopening of the inner chamber of the treasury on July 14, panel chairman Justice Biswanath Rath said.

The recommendation will be sent to the temple managing committee, which will forward it to the Odisha government for approval, he said.

The temple treasury was last opened 46 years ago in 1978 and the reopening of it was a major political issue in the state during the recently concluded elections.

"We have unanimously decided that the committee would request the government to reopen the inner chamber of the 'Ratna Bhandar' on July 14," Rath said after a committee meeting in Puri on Tuesday.

The chief administrator of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA), who is the member convenor of the panel, was asked to produce the duplicate key of the 'Ratna Bhandar' before the committee during the meeting, Rath said.

"However, the SJTA administration could not produce the duplicate key as the temple authority was busy conducting Rath Yatra. The chief administrator is now asked to submit the key before the panel on July 14," Rath said.

It was also decided that the treasury would be opened by breaking the lock if the duplicate key fails to unlock it, he said.

A detailed discussion was held on several standard operating procedures (SOPs) needed for making an inventory of ornaments and repairing the 'Ratna Bhandar'.

"As per the rules, the minutes of the meeting will be sent to the temple managing committee, which will send it to the government for approval. After that, the 'Ratna Bhandar' can be opened," Rath said.

The BJP had promised to reopen the 'Ratna Bhandar' for necessary repair work and make an inventory after it came to power in Odisha.

"A consensus was reached that the ornaments and other valuable items of Lord Jagannath will be shifted to a designated place on the temple premises during the repair work of the treasury," he said.

The committee chairman said that making the inventory of ornaments and jewellery items is a time-consuming process and the state government first needs to provide all logistic support.

“We will examine the nature, character and weight of the ornaments,” he stated.

After getting opinions from all members of the panel, SOPs will be prepared and sent to the government for its approval, Rath said.

The SOPs are prepared while considering that rituals of the deities and darshan will not be affected. PTI BBM BDC PYK NN

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