Pradeep Pattanayak

Putting an end to the speculations of the devotees who have been eagerly waiting for the re-opening of the Sreemandir anytime soon, Puri district Collector Samarth Verma on Monday said that the decision in that regard will be taken only after January 31. 

Verma who attended a meeting of the Servitor Welfare Sub-Committee earlier in the day, told reporters that the district is yet to witness a decline in the daily number of Covid-19 cases. Therefore, the decision regarding the reopening of the temple for devotees will be taken after January 31 following discussions with the stakeholders, he said. 

“However, before the reopening of the temple, booster doses will be administered to all the servitors,” Verma said, adding that various welfare schemes for the servitors were also discussed in the meeting. “Topics like old age pension for servitors, widow pension, certain facilities for senior servitors, benefits under housing scheme, and some other topics were discussed and several decisions have been taken. Those will be taken up at the SJTA meeting and accordingly steps will be initiated for implementation,” informed Verma.

Divulging some of the decisions, Verma said a Niramaya centre will be set up at Dolabedi corner where the servitors will be provided treatment facilities and medicine free of cost. The servitors who have served the Lords continuously for a period of five years will be given preference. 

In the meeting, the servitors submitted a proposal to include them under the Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana (State government health insurance scheme).

Notably, several people had staged a protest outside the temple on January 23, demanding the reopening of the shrine for the devotees.

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