Panel to inventory jewellery, precious stones in the Ratna Bhandar of the Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri

Arijit Pasayat, former Supreme Court judge, will head the 12-member committee 

February 29, 2024 04:47 pm | Updated March 01, 2024 04:39 am IST - BHUBANESWAR

A view of the Shree Jagannath temple at Puri. File

A view of the Shree Jagannath temple at Puri. File | Photo Credit: Biswaranjan Rout

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday formed a 12-member committee, headed by former Supreme Court Justice Arijit Pasayat, to oversee the inventory of jewellery and other precious stones kept in the Ratna Bhandar (treasury) of the Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri.

The Ratna Bhandar, situated near sanctum sanctorum of the temple, has different chambers containing gold jewellery and precious stones donated by devotees.  The last such inventory of the temple treasury was carried out 46 years ago, when gold and silver ornaments wrapped in red cloth were stored in wooden boxes. When it was opened in 1978, the Ratna Bhandar had more than 1.2 quintals of gold and 2.2 quintals of silver. In addition to this, a sizeable amount of gold ornaments are used regularly in temple rituals.

Ramakant Panda, renowned cardiologist, will act as Vice-Chairman of the committee while Vidhu Bhushan Samal, former Chairman and Managing Director of Allahabad Bank; A. K. Sabat, Chartered Accountant; and Dibyasingh Deb, Chairman of the Shree Jagannath Temple Management Committee, Puri’s titular king, and representative of the Archaeological Survey of India, will be members of the committee.

According to the Chief Minister’s Office, the decision to form a high-level committee under the Chairmanship of Justice Arijit Pasayat was taken in keeping with the order of the Orissa High Court.

Despite demands made for it, including by the two Opposition parties, the BJP and the Congress, the State government had appeared reluctant to open the Ratna Bhandar. Former State BJP president Sameer Mohanty had even moved the Orissa High Court. The State Congress unit campaigned extensively for a similar cause.

Earlier, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had sought the necessary support for the inspection of the Ratna Bhandar from the Chief Administrator of the Shree Jagannath Temple. The ASI had made a similar request in 2018.

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