Pradeep Pattanayak

Due to a lack of toilet facilities near the Eastern Gate (Lion’s Gate) of Lord Jagannath Temple in Puri, the devotees, particularly women, are facing a lot of problems. 

Thousands of devotees visit the 12th-century shrine on a regular basis. They enter the temple in queues. While waiting for their turn, they, mostly elderly ones, children, and diabetic patients, need toilet facilities. But surprisingly enough, there is no toilet near the eastern gate. For this, the devotees expressed their dissatisfaction. 

“There is no toilet at the Eastern Gate, not at the Grand Road. Because of this, devotees, particularly aged ones are facing a lot of problems,” said Ranjita Patnaik, a devotee. 

Echoing the same, another devotee said, “My wife is a diabetic patient. While waiting for her turn, she wanted to attend nature’s call. As there is no toilet near the Lion’s Gate, we had a tough time.”

Even though toilets have been constructed near the three gates of the temple under the Srimandir Parikrama Project, there is not a single one near the main gate. In the absence of toilets at the Eastern Gate, devotees are experiencing a lot of difficulties. 

“There used to be a toilet at Radhaballav Mutt. But it has long been closed for reasons better known to the administration. There being no toilets near the Eastern Gate, devotees are facing problems. Besides, there is no proper signage to inform them regarding the temporary toilets set up at the other three gates. The present situation can be ascribed to the fact that the elected members are not speaking even a word on the lack of facilities for devotees,” said Binayak Dasmahapatra, a senior servitor. 

Expressing his concern, an intellectual Dilip Baral said, “The Supreme Court had mentioned in its order that there is a requirement of cloakroom and toilet for devotees coming to the temple. The toilets have been constructed at the three gates of the temple but are yet to be made functional. Devotees enter through the Lion’s Gate. What is the use of toilets and cloakrooms constructed at the other three gates? With no proper signage informing about the toilets, devotees can be seen wandering around the temple looking for toilets.”

When contacted, OBCC Superintending Engineer, Prabhat Panigrahi said, “Three toilets meant for male, female and servitors have been constructed on the three sides of the temple.  The Eastern Gate doesn’t have a toilet because it would create problems during the Rath Yatra.”

Puri Sub Collector Bhabataran Sahu parried the question saying, “Once the Shree Jagannath Reception Centre comes up, the problem will be resolved.”

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