Jagamohan beautification: Architect’s move puts SJTA in dilemma

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The Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) is in a quandary over awarding a contract for beautification work of Srimandir Jagamohan in Orissa, the company chosen for the purpose is a renowned architect, sculptor and a Padma Bibhusan recipient who offered to do the work for free after his tender was not selected.

The project cost is estimated to be around INR 13 lakh.

Jagamohan was in a dilapidated state with several cracks having appeared on its pillars. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and state Public Works Department (PWD) had recently installed stainless steel frames inside Jagamohan to strengthen it.

However, installation of steel frames has affected the beauty of the 12th century structure. The SJTA, in consultation with experts, had decided to wrap the steel frames with stone-made decorative pieces. The temple administration had invited tenders from private parties to carry out the renovation work.

Sources said, altogether five entities, including noted sculptor and architect Raghunath Mahaptra, had submitted their tenders for Jagamohan beautification work. A private company, Dillip Construction, had eventually been selected in the tender to clad the steel frames with stone-made artistic works.

Mahapatra, who was unable to get selected in the tender process, has recently written to the temple administration expressing his desire to carry out the stone cladding work at Jagamohan, free of cost.

Mahapatra’s move has put the SJTA in a catch-22 situation. Dillip Construction may seek legal recourse if the temple administration does not allow it to do the work.

On the other hand, auditing agencies may raise questions on the INR 13 lakh expenditure, if incurred by the SJTA, given that a private individual is eager to do the work for free, said a source familiar with the temple administration.

When contacted, Mahapatra confirmed that he has written to the SJTA and shown his readiness to do the work without taking a single rupee.

“We should not commercialise Srimandir renovation work. I am an architect and sculptor and hence had a desire to beautify Jagamohan. I have decided to do the task with utmost care,” said Mahapatra.

Dillip Khatoi, chief of Dillip Construction, said he has no desire to make profit by doing beautification work at Jagamohan. “The temple administration had selected us through tender process. So, legally we are supposed to do the work. Let’s see what Lord Jagannath’s wish is,” Khatoi added.

Srimandir superintending engineer Bindheswar Patra said the temple administration has not taken a final call on the issue.

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