GS Paper - 1 (Art and Culture)

The ambitious Puri heritage corridor project of the Odisha government has landed into a controversy. A recent affidavit filed by the Archaeological Survey of India in the Orissa High Court has further intensified the debate around the project.

What is the Puri Heritage Corridor Project?

  1. Conceived in 2016, the Puri Heritage Corridor Project was unveiled in December 2019 to transform the town into an international place of heritage.
  2. The project includes redeveloping major portions of the town and in the vicinity of the temple for visitors and tourists.
  3. A resolution for the project was passed in the state assembly unanimously in February 2020 to begin the first phase of work estimated at a cost of Rs 800 crore.
  4. Following this, the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) approved the architectural design plan of the project at an estimated cost of Rs 3,200 crore.
  5. A total of 22 different projects will be executed in a phased manner. After the initial funds of Rs 800 crore from the state government’s Augmentation of Basic Amenities and Development of Heritage and Architecture at Puri (ABADHA) scheme, another Rs 265 crore will be provided in the first phase.

What is the controversy about?

  1. The 12th century shrine is a centrally protected monument, with the ASI as its custodian.
  2. As per rules laid down under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and validation) Act, construction activities within a 100 metre around such a monument’s perimeter are restricted. Constructions can only be carried out with approval from the National Monuments Authority (NMA).
  3. The NMA, a body under the Union Ministry of Culture was set up under the provisions of AMSAR Act for the protection and preservation of monuments and sites through management of the prohibited and regulated area around the centrally protected monuments.