Sammed Shikharji: Union Minister Arjun Munda asks Jharkhand CM to act on holy city tag for Madhuban

Ranchi: Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda said that the Hemant Soren government should dig out a notification issued by the Jharkhand government in 2006 granting holy city status to Madhuban, a small town in Giridih district, situated at the foot of the Parasnath Hills that cradle the Sammed Shikharji pilgrimage centre.

He said that the notification had been issued in 2006 during his tenure as chief minister. “And if the State government takes cognizance of this notification, and acts accordingly, the Jains world over will be assured that the religious sanctity of their most revered place of pilgrimages will be maintained. Notably, 20 of the 24 Jain Tirthankars (saviours and spiritual teachers) had attained Mahanirvana (salvation) on the Parasnath Hills.

A holy city status to Madhuban will empower the State government to impose prohibitions within the demarcated area and ban public trade in meat, fish and eggs. Munda said that he will also speak to Union Forest and Environment Minister Bhupendra Yadav and urge him to review the action plan under Parasnath Wildlife Sanctuary under which eco-tourism will be promoted. “This place should be promoted as a place for religious and spiritual development instead of an eco-tourism centre,” he added. 

Significantly, Jharkhand’s new tourism policy, unveiled by Chief Minister Hemant Soren on July 23 2022 also wants to promote Parasnath Hills, Madhuban, and Itkhori as centres of religious tourism. What has irked the Jain community is the gazette notification, issued by the Union Environment Ministry on August 2, 2019, declaring Parasnath hills as an eco-sensitive zone giving permission for eco-tourism and recreational activities there. 

The Parasnath Hills where the Sammed Shikhar is located is a part of the Parasnath Wildlife Sanctuary. The Centre’s gazette was based on the then Raghubar Das Government’s March 2018 draft to create an eco-sensitive zone around Parasnath and Topchanchi sanctuaries. The Das government’s another notification declaring Parasnath as a tourist spot of international importance along with 23 other places on February 20 2019 is also under fire.

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