Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Kakatpur, Mar 22:
Sevayats (servitors) of the Maa Mangala temple, the presiding deity of Kakatpur in Odisha’s Puri district, are fuming over the non-resolution of the dispute over their payments by the administration.
During his last visit to the temple to review preparations for Nabakalebara Yatra on March 17, Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) chief administrator Suresh Chandra Mohapatra had accepted some of the 19-point charter of demands submitted to him by the Mangala Mandir Sevak Samiti, but had rejected their main demand of an increase in their payments.
Mohapatra had promised to visit them again after three to four days to sort out the issue through discussions. While he is yet to honour his commitment, resentment is running high among the sevayats.
What has further peeved the sevayats is that the Nabakalebara Infrastructure Supervision Committee (NISC), headed by Puri MLA Maheswar Mohanty, which was on a visit to the Deuli Mutt here to take stock of the progress of the development of infrastructure for the Banajaga Yatra today, did not bother to hold any discussions with them.
The temple sevayats had staged a demonstration in front of the temple waving placards on March 18, the day after Mohapatra had visited the temple protesting non-resolution of the dispute over their payments by the administration and threatening total non-cooperation during the Banajaga Yatra. The sevayats had warned that they would wear black badges during the Yatra if their demands were not fulfilled.
“Suresh Chandra Mohapatra had said that he would visit Kakatpur and hold discussions with the Pandas (priests) of Maa Mangala temple. But he has neither issued any government letter nor has he held any discussion on the issue with the Pandas. Resentment among Pandas is running high over this apathy,” said Mahendra Dikshit, a sevayat of Maa Mangala temple.
“The SJTA chief administrator was to hold discussions with us, But nothing has happened and the deadlock continues. The NISC came today on a visit to the Deuli Mutt, But we were not even informed about their visit. They left after visiting the Mutt,” said another sevayat of the temple Pabitra Dikshit.
Meanwhile, the NISC, consisting of its chairman Maheswar Mohanty, Minister for Tourism Ashok Panda, President of Daitapati Nijog Ramakrushna Dasmohapatra and senior officials of the administration, visited the Deuli Mutt to take stock of the progress of the work there as very little time is left for the commencement of Banajaga Yatra on March 29.
While Panda said work was in its final stages and would be completed before March 29, the day the Banajaga Yatra team will commence its journey, president of Daitapati Nijog Ramakrushna Dasmohapatra expressed his displeasure over the polluted water of Prachi river where the Banajaga Yatra team will be conducting certain rituals during its stay there.
“Banajaga Yatra will begin on March 29. Today is March 22 and it’s in the final stages and will be completed. Daitapatis on their arrival here will face no difficulties. Everything will be in order to conduct their rituals,” said Ashok Panda, Minister Tourism speaking to reporters.
“During our visit, we found that around 90 percent of work has already been completed and I am hopeful it will be completed before the Banajaga Yatra. River Prachi is known for sacredness, But see in what neglected state it is. The people associated with its upkeep should keep it clean since there will be around 200 people in the team, who will be using the water apart from conduct of rituals,” said Dasmohapatra.