By Kapilas Bhuyan


The massive demolition spree taking place in Puri now is no doubt very heartrending. However, the cleansing drive by the state govt. through the joint action by Puri District Administration and Srimandir Administration is claimed to be futuristic by making the temple surrounding clutter free for better protection against any possible terrorist attack. It then justifies the attempt to some extent.

The action by the state govt. is being taken on the recommendation of Justice B. P. Das Commission, and with the massive funds being provided by the Govt. of India to support the post Fani Cyclone rehabilitation of people and rebuilding the Puri town. The rehabilitation package that was declared on 2nd September, 2019 by the Chief Minister Shri Naveen Pattnaik sounds to be very lucrative for everyone and this generous support of the govt. will surely make happy one and all. All those people whose houses, shops, lodging, or even the monasteries are demolished will be sufficiently compensated. What could be a better package of compensation for the loss bearing individuals or institutions?

emar matha demolition

But then, what will compensate for the loss of heritage structures like Emar Matha, Bada Akhada Math, Sana Chhata Math, Mangu Matha, Punjabi Matha, etc. those which have been existing over centuries. Besides, these monasteries are involved with the providing services for conducting religious rituals of Lord Jagannath Temple. Again, Emar Math also houses the Raghunadan Pathagar, the age old library that contains very old palm leaves documents and other such academic publications which during such forced shifting must have been damaged a lot. Many age old rarest of the rare Pata Chitras and Wall Paintings having academic values are also going to be destroyed due to the demolitions.

Whereas a silent resistance against the demolition by the Mahant Rajgopal Ramanuj Das of Emar Matha is still on, the supreme religious guru Shankaracharya Nischalanand Saraswati Maharaj is highly critical about the demolition drive. In the meanwhile, the Odisha Chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Culture (INTACH) has also submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister politely requesting the govt. to protect these monumental heritages of Puri. It also has gone one step further suggesting the govt. to utilize modern technologies to strengthening the structures. But the govt. is seemingly in no mood to consider any such requests. Evacuating these monasteries for possible loss of lives is alright, but demolishing these heritage structures is no doubt going to be a permanent loss.

Matha Demolition

Surprisingly, there is no resistance from anyone, neither from the intellectual quarters of the state nor from the general public of Puri. In fact everyone has a deep set fear to raise the voice against what the administrators have plans to implement thinking that their ideas about everything is most ideal. Not only demolishing of structures surrounding the Puri Sri Mandir, with standby thirty platoon police force behind the drive, the administration is capable of destabilizing any voice of dissent.

What the informed people are brooding over is the fact that having the sanction of Justice B. P. Das Commission the state administration has overlooked to discuss the impact of demolishing the structures within the precinct of 75 meters area surrounding the Shri Jagannath Temple.


As all Odia populace know, our Chief Minister Shri Naveen Pattnaik is very sensitive about the culture and heritage of Odisha. Therefore, people disbelieve the fact that how he has approved of such mindless decisions by his administrators! We have to remember that the temple rituals have been conducted smoothly over centuries adopting due changes from time to time as per requirements. Besides, we need to understand that Shri Jagannath Temple of Puri is not a shrine like any other temples of India where business of religion has taken the front seat, and the administrative approach that is implemented at those places is no way valid at the Shri Jagannath Temple.

There is an all encompassing order helps the smooth running of the temple rituals on daily basis despite the chaos we witness, and that has been the beauty of the Lord Jagannath Temple. It’s time now to rethink about our actions, lest in the name of cleansing, we might lose the spirit of our belief system.

The writer is a Senior Journalist and National Award Winning Filmmaker based in Bhubaneswar


  1. Outstanding! An accurate assessment of the present scenario of cleanesing drive. I absolutely endorse the analysis and views outlined in the article.

Comments are closed.