Mrunal Manmay Dash

Ahead of the holy month of Kartika, the pilgrim town of Puri is all set to welcome thousands of Habisyalis who will the month-long ‘habisha’ brata. However, several Habisyalis, who arrived in Puri a day before Kartik brata, were forced to spend the night under open sky as they were allegedly denied entry into the habisyali centres by the district administration.

The administration said they will be allowed to enter the centres and occupy their berths only after 9am on Saturday.

A habisyali from Khordha district said, “We do not know all these administrative rules and regulations. We are very excited to come to see Lord Jagannath and perform Puja. Hence, we arrived a day earlier in Puri. But the administration should have let us in. Our children back home were worried about us as well.”

Habisyalis from Khordha, Jagatsinghpur and Ganjam who spent the night outside the centres alleged that the state government did not make any arrangements for them.

A total of 3024 habisyalis have registered to avail the scheme till now. Out of which 911 Habisyalis are from Khordha, 875 from Puri, 385 from Ganjam and 310 persons have registered from Nayagarh district.

As far as their stay is concerned, the Puri administration has arranged five habisyali centres to accommodate them. About 1650 habisyalis will be accommodated at Brundabati Niwas, 580 in Mochisahi Kalyan Mandap, 450 in Akshaya Patra Foundation, 150 in Bagala Dharmashala and 180 habisyalis will be sheltered in Bagedia dharmashala in Puri.

Five nodal officers have been appointed for as many habisyali centres to supervise all arrangements through the month during their stay. WATCO has been entrusted with supplying drinking water at all these centres too.

Puri Additional Collector Pradeep Sahu said, “We have divided all the 3050 habisyalis registered till now in five locations of Puri. The Collector has appointed senior officials as nodal officers for each habisyali centre in Puri.”

“I have come here to review all the water supply arrangements made at the habisyali centres. Our aim is to supply uninterrupted water supply to all the habisyalis staying in different habisyali centres,” said Superintendent of WATCO Bhawani Mohanty.

It is pertinent to mention here that the habisyalis have been accommodated in Puri under the scheme Habisyali Brata Yojana, launched in 2018. Under the scheme, habisyalis were asked to apply online for the pre-registration process.

However, it is alleged that several habisyalis could not register after the administration stopped the online registration process much earlier.

Puri MLA Jayanta Sarangi said, “I am receiving many calls requesting help after several failed to register under the Habisyali Brata Yojana. It gives me pain to see their plight. I urge the district administration to filter the creamy layer from the applicants and not allow them avail the scheme. This scheme should be availed by only poor habisyalis who do not have anywhere to stay in Puri.”

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