New Delhi, Jul 22 (PTI) Madhya Pradesh government on Thursday told the Supreme Court that district administration has removed 144 encroachments within 500 metres area of the premises of ancient Mahakaleshwar Temple in Ujjain.

It an affidavit of compliance filed in the apex court, the state government said that encroachment of 144 houses of 250 families have been removed and they have been paid Rs three lakh each as rehabilitation compensation by the administration.

However, a bench of Justices U U Lalit and Ajay Rastogi observed during the hearing that why the authorities allow encroachment to happen and do not take action against it at the first instance.

“Day in and day out, this is happening everywhere,” the bench said.

The top court then asked advocate Saurabh Mishra, appearing for Madhya Pradesh, as to whether all the encroachments have been removed from the area in pursuance to the order passed by the court in September last year.

“Yes, within 500 metres, all the encroachments have been removed,” Mishra said.

The bench asked the district judge of Ujjain to depute an officer to conduct inspection in this regard and file a report within six weeks.

Mishra also told the bench about status of compliance regarding another direction given by the apex court in its last year order which pertained to necessary repairs, maintenance and improvement of the temple premises.

The state told the bench that report submitted before the apex court by the Central Building Research Institute (CBRI) Roorkee, which had completed the inspection regarding structural stability of the temple, was provided to the state's counsel on April 19.

It said that due to second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, there was lockdown from mid of April this year to May 2021 and the entire administration was occupied in preventing further spread of the virus and providing treatment to the affected people.

It said the district administration is still deliberating upon comprehensive plan to be prepared for maintenance of the temple with the help of superintendent engineer and available architects.

In its affidavit, the state urged the top court to give one-month extension to prepare and submit a comprehensive plan for maintenance of the temple pursuant to the report of CBRI, Roorkee.

The bench granted time to the state to comply with the direction given earlier by the apex court and posted the matter for hearing in the last week of September.

In its last year order, the apex court had taken note of the deterioration and erosion of Shivalingam at the Mahakaleshwar Temple and said that devotees should “do no rubbing” of the lingam.

It had directed the temple committee to ensure that the pH value, which is used to specify the acidity or basicity, of ‘Bhasma' during ‘Bhasma Aarti' is improved and the Shivalingam is preserved from further deterioration.

It had directed the collector and superintendent of Police of Ujjain to ensure that encroachment within 500 metre of the area of the temple premises are removed.

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