Construction of chariots begins in Puri; servitors to be tested for COVID-19

Bhubaneswar: In view of wide spread of novel coronavirus in Odisha, the servitors engaged in construction work of chariots for Ratha Jatra in Puri will undergo COVID-19 test to avoid spread of deadly infections at construction site.

The servitors engaged in construction of chariots will undergo health check-up to ensure safety in construction work. In view of the pandemic, a blueprint has been prepared by the temple administration for smooth conduct of chariot construction, said Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) Chief Administrator Krishan Kumar after holding a meeting with the servitors today.

As per the plan, over 150 Biswakarma Moharanas will be tested for COVID-19. They will be accommodated at two Bhakta Niwas and will be provided food there. From Bhakta Niwas they will be taken to Ratha Khala in a bus for chariot construction.

The SJTA has proposed the servitors to undertake construction work of chariots in a restricted zone of 200-ft.

The construction work at ‘Ratha Khala’ will be carried out as per the guidelines set by Ministry of Home Affairs, he added.

Meanwhile, the government has appointed Puri ADPHO Dr. Devi Prasad Mahapatra as Liaison officer for making necessary arrangements for check up of health conditions of Maharana Sevaks, Bhoi Sevaks, Rupakar Sevaks and Kamar Sevaks for construction of chariots on account of Ratha Jatra. He will take necessary steps in coordination with the administrator (development) of SJTA and set up camps for check up and treatment of servitors engaged in construction work of chariots. He will be assisted by Ayush MO Dr. Pritish Ranjan Moharana for the new assignment.

Besides, the Urban Mobile Health Unit (MHU) will work under Dr. Mahapatra and do their duty as instructed. The district RRT (Rapid Response Team) has been instructed to be ready to move when required.

The Multi Purpose Health Workers (MPHWs) — Avilash Hota, Milan Mohapatra and Paresh Swain — who are currently working at Puri DHH, have been directed to report to Dr Mahapatra at Temple Office on May 9. The vehicle presently being utilised by the DPHO, Puri, has been allotted to the ADPHO for the said purpose.

Notably, the construction work of chariots for annual car festival of Lord Jagannath has begun from today after Centre allowed it with two conditions.

In a letter to the Odisha government, Union Home Ministry on Thursday said the activity of chariot construction was allowed to be undertaken in the ‘Ratha Khala’, which is situated on both sides of the Grand Road in front of the Jagannath temple office and Sri Nahar palace, subject to fulfilling conditions.

As per the conditions, no religious congregation should take place in ‘Ratha Khala’ and complete segregation of it should be ensured.

The Centre made it clear that the decision of holding the Ratha Jatra in Puri would be taken by the Odisha government keeping in mind the prevailing COVID-19 situation.

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