Pradeep Pattanayak

Given that the specific timbers required for the construction of three chariots of Lord Jagannath and his siblings in Puri are getting scarce with the passage of time, Maharana servitors are anticipating more trouble for the chariot construction in the coming years. 

As per the age-old tradition, 865 logs of Phasi, Asana and Dhaura are required for the construction of the three chariots. During the initial stage of construction work, the Maharana servitors require Phasi logs with 6 to 7 feet girth for ‘Tumba’ and of 7 to 8 feet for ‘Pahi’. 

Finding this specific type of tree is getting difficult as such a variety of trees generally takes 70 to 80 years to meet the required measurements for chariot construction. As of now, ‘Bhoi’ servitors have reached as far as Ganjam while searching for such trees. 

This is why a kind of fear and apprehension is growing among the servitors and devotees that the chariot construction may get affected in future due to shortage of ‘Phasi’ logs. 

“The only solution is to plant new tress in place of trees felled every year,” said Bhoi servitor, Karttik Bhoi.

“The age-old tradition may come to an end due to shortage of logs. Time has come to ponder over the situation. Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb had said that he himself would visit Nayagarh to create awareness among people to plant a tree,” said a member of Srimandir Management committee, Madhab Mahapatra.
In past, steps were taken to replenish the axed Phasi, Asana and Dhaura tress with planting saplings. In 2002, even Jagannath Bana Prakalpa was launched. But the present conditions of these projects are a far cry from what was intended. At places, there are only eucalyptus trees and at other places, they bear a barren look. 

If the RTI information is anything to go by, the specific trees were planted in as many as 21 places under Khordha division in 2003 spending Rs 91,63,000. Besides, Rs 22, 41,000 was spent on their maintenance. But the present condition of this forest paints a gloomy picture. The condition of such projects taken up in Nayagarh and Boudh divisions is no different either. 

“Tangi range officer had contacted me to donate trees. Since I have two tress of required measurement in my backyard, I have decided to donate them voluntarily,” said one Brajabandhu Kar. 

“The DFO asked us to create awareness among people to donate ‘Mango’, ‘Moi’, ‘Rai’, ‘Simili’ and ‘Maha Limba’ trees voluntarily. We did accordingly, and people have already donated a few trees,” informed Khordha ranger, Jayakrushna Panda.