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Jagannath temple plans to sell land to raise Rs.1,000 Crore maintenance corpus

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JaganNath Temple, Puri, Odisha, India. Wikimedia Commons
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Chinmaya Dehury

Puri, Odisha, India:

At 60,654 acres, Lord Jagannath could be the richest landlord among India’s deities. About 395 acres of it is now being sold to create a Rs.1,000 crore maintenance corpus for the 12th-century shrine here in the Lord’s name, an official said.

This is even as land sharks have grabbed vast patches of the 60,259 acres of Jagannath temple land across 23 districts in Odisha. The balance 395 acres is in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal. Of these states, West Bengal has the maximum – 322 acres – owned by the temple.

“The state government is in the process of selling temple land outside the state,” Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) chief Suresh Mohapatra told IANS.

Besides, the government has also written a letter to the district collector of Nainital in Uttarakhand to pay the market value of a 52-year-old building owned by the temple.

The owner of the two-storeyed building had donated the ground floor to the Jagannath temple on April 26, 1964, and it has been rented out as a post office.

There is, however, a huge catch: the state government does not have land records or ‘pattas’ for a whopping 27,331 acres spread across 111 tehsils in 23 districts.

Statue of a crouching lion over an elephant at the entrance of the Jagannath Temple, Puri, India. Wikimedia Commons
Statue of a crouching lion over an elephant at the entrance of the Jagannath Temple, Puri, India. Wikimedia Commons

“Out of 60,259 acres of Jagannath’s land identified by the SJTA, the state has record of rights (ROR) of only 32,927 acres. The balance 27,331 acres have no record of rights,” Law Minister Arun Sahu told the state assembly recently.

He also said that 340 cases have been filed against the land encroachers under the Sri Jagannath Temple Act 1955.

Sources said committees have been formed under the collectors of the districts concerned to collect details on the temple land and expedite the process of acquiring revised records.

The government had also planned to auction part of the temple land to boost the shrine’s revenues. The Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) has been asked to sell the land on plotting basis since it has expertise in land transactions. However, the government’s move has hit a roadblock as several villagers in the Jatani area of Khurdha district have moved the Orissa High Court.

“They have managed to get a stay order from Orissa High Court. We are trying to get the stay order vacated so that about 125 acres can be sold,” Mohapatra said.

(Chinmaya Dehury can be contacted at shinmaya.d@ians.in)

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Cancer-Causing Chemical Found In Odisha Fish Sample

Odisha mostly depends on Andhra Pradesh to meet its demand for fish. Last year, the total fish production in Odisha was around 6.5 lakh tonne

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Cancer
Cancer Ribbon. Pixabay

Cancer-causing chemical formalin was found in fish stocks available in the markets here, an official said on Friday.

Traces of cancer-causing formalin were found in Pomfret fish samples, collected from the Unit-IV fish market in Bhubaneswar, said Fisheries and Animal Resources Development Department Secretary Vishal Gagan.

A 12-member team from the department collected samples of around nine varieties of fish including marine, freshwater, and brackish water from the market and Chilika Fresh outlets — fish retailers — on Friday.

While formalin content was found in Pomfret fish samples, Gagan said the entire stock will be destroyed if more fish tested positive.

After the Assam government banned the import of fish from Andhra Pradesh, the Odisha government on Thursday issued directions to examine the quality of fish being imported from Andhra Pradesh to detect the presence of formalin.

Verification samples at different fish markets in urban and rural areas will be taken up in order to prevent the sale of adulterated fish.
Verification samples at different fish markets in urban and rural areas will be taken up in order to prevent the sale of adulterated fish.

Formalin, a cancer-inducing chemical, is used to keep dead fish fresh and enhance their storage life.

Gagan also informed that a committee under the District Collectors will be formed to ensure that no prohibitory substances are used to preserve the stock.

“As only one out of nine samples has tested positive, we are now concentrating on collecting information from various parts of the state and will take an appropriate decision regarding a ban on fish imports,” he said.

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Verification samples at different fish markets in urban and rural areas will be taken up in order to prevent the sale of adulterated fish.

Odisha mostly depends on Andhra Pradesh to meet its demand for fish. Last year, the total fish production in Odisha was around 6.5 lakh tonne. (IANS)