Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, Mar 10:
Though the dispute over the quantum of compensation to be paid to the Daitapatis by the Odisha government for the ‘losses’ incurred by them last year during the Rath Yatra on account of the ban on devotees from climbing the chariots remains unresolved, the stalemate over the issue is over.
The Daitapatis, who were hitherto sulking over the offer of Rs 40 lakh by the state government as compensation for their ‘losses’, are understood to have reached an undeclared understanding with the administration over the issue at a formal meeting with the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) on the preparations for the Nabakalebara Yatra of Lord Jagannath yesterday.
Keeping the paucity of time in mind, detailed discussion was held on the forthcoming Banajaga Yatra at the meeting.
“The Daitapati Nijog will submit a list of around 100 persons who will form the Banajaga Yatra team, within the next two days and will also suggest the name of the team leader to the administration. The administration will also hold a meeting with the Daitapatis within a short time to discuss the sub-committees formed by the Nijog for various rituals associated with the Nabakalebara Yatra,” said Suresh Chandra Mohapatra, chief administrator SJTA after the meeting on Monday evening.
The meeting was attended by Daitapati Nijog’s president Ramakrushna Dasmohapatra, secretary Premananda Dasmohapatra, all Badagrahis, young and senior Daitapatis apart from Suresh Chandra Mohapatra, chief administrator SJTA.
The Daitapatis had earlier refused to accept the offer of Rs 40 lakh made by the government as compensation amount for their ‘losses’, calling it ‘a drop in the ocean’ and had declared complete non-cooperation with the administration till the matter was resolved. The ultimatum had put the government in a tight situation as Daitapatis play a key role in the Nabakalebara Yatra of Lord Jagannath.
The Daitapati Nijog had also declared to go ahead with preparations for the Nabakalebara Yatra on its own without taking a single pie from the government.
The conciliatory tone of the Daitapati Nijog at the Monday meeting has come as a big relief for the temple administration.
On the issue of compensation for last year’s Rath Yatra, the Daitapati Nijog will submit a memorandum to the state government and the chief administrator, SJTA will discuss the matter with the government. The Daitapatis will take a decision on the government’s offer, said sources privy to the meeting.
However, Nijog’s president Ramakrushna Dasmohapatra has made it clear that the Nijog has not accepted the government’s offer of Rs 40 lakh towards compensation under the present circumstances. He said the Nijog will organize a two-day training camp for the Banajaga Yatra on March 14 for its smooth conduct. Apart from senior members of the Daitapati community, at least 50 young members of the community will attend the camp, he said.
Some Daitapatis raised the issue of taking preventive steps against dreaded swine flu during the Nabakalebara festival in view of the lakhs of devotees and tourists expected from inside and outside the country. The administration however, assured them that since summer was approaching and there has been a rise in temperature, the possibility of swine flu outbreak was remote.