After the news report of 35,000 acres of land belonging to Shree Jagannath Puri Temple went viral, the temple administration has come out with clarification in a series of tweets. The temple administration has stated that the reports of land being sold are completely false and motivated.
SJTP (Shree Jagannath Temple Office, Puri) issued a series of tweet stating, “The lands, which are occupied or are under the possession of various persons since long but belongs to Shree Jagannatha Mahaprabhu; are being settled by Temple Committee as per the “Unified Policy”, framed for the purpose in the year 2003.”
“It is important to note that from 2001 to 2010, 291 acres of land was settled and from 2011 to 2021, 96 acres of land have been settled. These have been settled for the benefit of the public mostly in the form of schools, medical college, roads, etc.”
Chief Administrator, Shree Jagannatha Temple Administration (SJTA) clarifies on the issue related to lands of Shree Jagannatha Mahaprabhu. (1/7)— Shree Jagannatha Temple Office, Puri (@SJTA_Puri) March 18, 2021
The Temple administration also clarified that all the decisions regarding the allotment of land for public benefit infrastructure projects to the Government or others are taken by the Shree Jagannath Temple Committee.
Decisions regarding the allotment of land for such public benefit infrastructure projects to the Government and others is taken by the Jagannath Temple Committee. (6/7)— Shree Jagannatha Temple Office, Puri (@SJTA_Puri) March 18, 2021
Basically, the Temple administration clarified that the decision to ‘settle’ land is not a unilateral decision by the state government and has been taken by the Temple administration for lands that are currently occupied by different parties.
This comes after news reports of the Odisha government selling 35,000 acres of temple land went viral yesterday and social media was awash with posts condemning the move.
Odisha Law Minister’s statement in the assembly
On Tuesday, Law Minister Pratap Jena had informed the Odisha assembly regarding the decision. “Around 60,426 acres of land in the name of Lord Jagannath, has been identified in 24 districts across the state. Over 395 acres of land has been identified in West Bengal, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Bihar.”
The Law Minister had stated that of over 60,000 acres of land owned by Lord Jagannath, the Temple authorities could prepare the final Record of Rights (RoR) over 34,876.983 acres and those lands will be sold and the funds will be deposited with the Temple.
The report also stated that as per the government’s decision, those who have encroached temple land for more than 30 years can take possession of the land by paying Rs. 6 lakh per acre. The ones who have encroached the land for less than 30 but more than 20 years will have to pay Rs.9 lakh per acre and those who have encroached the land less than 20 years but more than 12 years will have to pay Rs.15 lakh per acre to take possession of the land.
The news of Lord Jagannath’s land being sold had rekindled debates on social media regarding the government’s control and interference over Hindu temples and their properties.