Why Centre has objected to Odisha's plan for landmark Lingaraj Temple

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Why Centre has objected to Odisha's plan for landmark Lingaraj Temple

  • The Central government has told the Odisha government that its ordinance to bring the Lingaraj temple and its associated temples under a special law is outside the legislative competence of the state legislature.
  • It also said the ordinance is in conflict with the rules laid down under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958(AMASR Act).

Temple and plan

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  • Lingaraj: largest temple in Bhubaneswar
  • It is believed to have been built by the Somvanshi King Yayati I.
  • Material culture: red stone and is a classic example of the Kalinga style of architecture.
  • The temple is divided into four sections - Garbha Griha (sanctum sanctorum), Yajna Shala (the hall for prayers), Bhoga Mandap (the hall of offering) and Natya Shala (hall of dance).
  • The temple complex has one hundred and fifty subsidiary shrines.
  • Lingaraj is referred to as ‘Swayambhu' – self-originated Shivling.
  • The 66- acre "Ekamra Kshetra" development plan was intended to preserve nine sites and 1 nearby area through an expenditure of around Rs 700 crore.

Steps taken by the Odisha Government for Lingaraj Temple

  • 2019: the Odisha Government announced the Ekamra Kshetra Development project for the development of the area around Lingaraj temple to revive the heritage and cultural value of the ‘temple city.
  • 2020: Lingaraj Temple Ordinance was introduced to bring Lingaraj Temple and 8 other associated temples under the control of the Lingaraj Temple Managing Committee, similar to the one for Jagannath Temple in Puri.
  • Under the ordinance, a fund creation was also proposed to deposit income derived from immovable and movable properties of the temple.

Objections raised by the Central Government against the Ordinance?

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs has said several sections of the proposed ordinance were in conflict with the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains(AMASR) Act.
  • Firstly, the ordinance covers 12 centrally protected monuments, including the Lingaraj temple and three tanks.
    • This was outside the legislative competence of the state legislature as it violates the provisions of the AMASR Act,1958.
  • Secondly, the ordinance has a provision for retail shops for the sale of commodities inside or outside the temples.
    • But as per AMASR Act, a monument should not be used for any other purposes not consistent with its character.
  • Thirdly, a managing committee will be set up to oversee the lease or sale of movable or immovable property attached to the Lingaraj temple.
    • But the movable property may include archaeological or artistic objects (meaning antiques) and in that case, it will be in conflict with the AMASR Act.
  • Fourthly, the ordinance provides for certain powers to the temple committee to undertake repairs, for which the Archaeological Survey of India is responsible.
    • Therefore, this clause is also in contradiction with the provision of the AMASR Act.
  • Fifthly, the ordinance provides for special darshan on payment of a fee.
    • This was found in violation of the existing agreement between ASI and temple management, which clearly stipulates the public would have free access to the monument.
  • Lastly, the ordinance provides for the repair and construction of new buildings, while the centre contended that construction can only be allowed by the National Monuments Authority.

Exam track

Prelims take away

  • Kalinga style of architecture
  • Lingaraj temple
  • Styles of Indian temple architecture
  • National Monuments Authority.
  • Archeological survey of India

Mains track

Q. Discuss the factors responsible for distinct architectural style of temple construction in different parts of India.