Ramakanta Biswas

With uncertainty still hanging over the participation of devotees in the annual Rath Yatra in Puri this year, two plans have been readied to make arrangements for either situation, said Puri Collector Samarth Verma on Thursday. 

Speaking to media after chairing the preparatory meeting of the world-famous car festival, Verma said, "We held discussions for smooth conduct of Rath Yatra this year. In view of Covid-19 situation, we have readied two plans- Rath Yatra celebration with devotees and Rath Yatra celebration without devotees." 

"In the first plan, if Covid-19 situation improves and devotees are allowed in the Rath Yatra, arrangements will be made accordingly. On the other hand, if the Covid-19 situation becomes grave and Rath Yatra is conducted without devotees, we will adopt the second plan and make arrangements accordingly," Verma added.     

Verma said large congregations of devotees, about 1.5 or 2 times more than the previous years, are expected during the Rath Yatra in Puri this year. 

"If the Covid-19 situation remains normal, a large number of devotees will throng Puri to witness Rath Yatra. In that case, we have directed all departments to make arrangements keeping in view the circumstances," the Collector said. 

"A week earlier, we had asked all concerned departments to prepare action plans. At today's meeting, the department demonstrated the plans. All the stakeholders shared their feedback on the action plans. The departments will now revise the action plans and will meet again after a few days and the plans will be finalized," he added.