The streets of Odisha capital Bhubaneswar reverberated with Mridangs and chants of ‘Haribolo’ on Wednesday when hundreds of Pala singers under the aegis of ‘Nikhila Utkal Pala Singers Council’ took out protest march and later sat on dharna in front of the Raj Bhawan demanding hike in allowance among other things.
As per reports, the Pala singers have been getting an allowance of Rs 1200 per month from the State government. However, they demanded to raise the allowance to Rs 3000 citing inflation in the market.
Besides, they also demanded life insurance for them, health insurance of Rs 10 Lakh and financial assistance to develop the Pala mandaps in Odisha.
Speaking to OTV, an agitating Pala singer said, “The meagre allowance the government is providing us is nothing compared to today’s market rates. Another major demand of us is to provide free land in Bhubaneswar to construct libraries and other infrastructure to upheld and help grow the Pala tradition of Odisha.”
Another agitator said, “While the government always provides financial assistance to farmers, we Pala singers always stay behind and never get any help from the government. We will not budge from this dharna until our demands are met.”
It is pertinent to mention here that the Pala singers were out of job for the last two years with the COVID induced lockdown rules on effect in Odisha.