07 September 2019
Puri: Supreme Court-appointed Amicus Curiae Ranjit Kumar with his team visited Puri Srimandir early Saturday to offer his prayers and then went on to hold talks with the Puri Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb. The managing committee with Police officials was part of the crucial meet. Kumar said the eviction drive is a ‘welcome move’.
While speaking to the media, Ranjit Kumar said, “We came here on orders of the honourable Supreme Court to verify whether the State Government’s decision of converting World Heritage City Puri into a Pilgrimage City is being done appropriately or not. We were asked to make sure that common people were not facing any kind of problems.”
“A smooth darshan was followed by an interaction with the managing committee. Our team also inspected the eviction sites. Expansion of road around Sri Jagannath Temple is necessary for ensuing that Puri Srimandir will observe Nagarjun Besa next year which is occurring after a gap of 25 years and will see a foot fall of about 15 lakh devotees. We came to conclusion that this eviction drive is for everyone’s benefit and the Administration has not demolished any buildings forcebly. We found that this is being undertaken after proper negotiation with all with Verified Development Plan.”
“Anyone wanting Puri’s growth and wishing that Srimandir’s culture and heritage be spread worldwide; will not cause hindrance in this drive. Because this will benefit the locals, pandas, pujaris, devotees; thus everyone in general.”
Former Solicitor General of India, Kumar has made numerous visits to the holy town in the past. And as directed by the apex court he is yet again in Puri to discuss the eviction drive being undertaken here. An amicus curiae act as an impartial advisor for the court in matters of importance. With Odisha government determined to go ahead with its eviction drive in the area located within 75-metres of the Jagannath temple boundary wall here, the mahants and mutt heads on September 4 sought the intervention of the Chief Justice of India.
While the State government has declared eviction packages for the residents, many mahants are protesting demolition of several mutts present in the 75 metres radius. It is important to note here that many of the buildings being demolished have been declared ‘unsafe’ several months ago.