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New radar survey around Jagannath Temple triggers row in Odisha

The continuing debate over suspected breaches of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act around Puri’s Jagannath Temple has intensified, with the Odisha government starting a Ground Penetrating Radar Survey to find any archaeological treasure beneath the earth on Saturday night.

The Odisha Bridge Construction Corporation (OBCC), a state government agency overseeing the Rs 800 crore Srimandir Parikrama Project, which includes the construction of cloakrooms, toilets, and drinking water fountains within 75 metres of the temple, began a ground penetrating radar survey with the help of the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, nearly two weeks after the Archaeological Survey of India informed the Orissa High Court that such a survey was necessary.

Following a PIL in the high court against the excavations endangering the temple’s structural safety, the ASI claimed in its affidavit earlier this month that because no heritage impact assessments or ground-penetrating radar surveys were done to determine the archaeological and historical significance lying buried in the subsoil within a 75-meter radius of the monument, many archaeological relics of the heritage site may have been lost by the negligent digging.

Two half-broken lion sculpture pieces dating back to the Ganga era were unearthed earlier this week from the razed site of the Emar Mutt, igniting new debates over how the temple corridor project is being carried out.

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