Surya Patro for Tirupati-like Trust board to run Puri temple

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Bhubaneswar: After remaining silent on the Niladri Bije incident last Sunday, which witnessed manhandling of media persons and physical assault on Puri Collector Aravinda Agarwal by ‘unruly’ servitors, senior Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader Surya Narayan Patro on Thursday suggested that the Sri Jagannath temple in Puri should be managed by a Trust on the lines of Lord Venkateswar temple management in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh.

The former revenue minister said unwanted incidents inside and outside the 12th century shrine can be avoided if the temple is managed by a Board.

“In the recent past, the servitors in the Puri temple have become very unruly. A Trust on the lines of the Tirupati temple trust must be formed immediately to manage it,” Patro stated.

Talking about the temple, Patro continued: “There, one can have darshan of the Lord peacefully without any hustle,” he said.

Information sourced from the website of Tirupati temple management showed the temple’s Board of Trustees is constituted by members appointed by the government. The Executive Officer is the chief executive of Tirupati Tirumala Desthanams (TTD). He is assisted by two Joint Executive Officers, Chief Vigilance and Security Officer, Conservator of Forests, Financial Advisor & Chief Accounts Officer, and Chief Engineer. TTD maintains 12 temples and their sub-shrines, and employs about 14,000 persons.

Asked why the government is not taking any ‘exemplary’ action against the servitors and letting them off the hook every time they indulge in ‘misconduct’ , be it during the ritual of the Trinity like Nabakalebar last year or on any other occasion, he maintained that time has come to do so.

“…All of us know that they (servitors) are creating disturbance in the temple, but nobody is coming out in public fearing personal loss,” quipped Patro.

The party vice-president’s comments to the media on the Sunday incident could be his personal opinion. But given the increasing stubbornness of the priests in the temple, the regional party, already under fire from all quarters for not reacting adequately on the incident involving an IAS officer, must be mulling a similar proposal to tame it.

In a belated move, the Odisha government has constituted a Judicial Commission led by Justice Bimal Prasad Das, fomer judge of the Orissa High Court, to suggest reforms in the Srimandir management. Former chief administrator of Shri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) Mahimohan Tripathy will assist the Commission.

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