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Ramakanta Biswas

Puri: They are the architects (Biswakarma) of gigantic chariots that mesmerise visitors from all over the globe during the world-famous Rath Yatra. However, many would not believe their eyes that the people who are capable of such magnificence are leading lives of penury.

Narasingha Mahapatra, maharana (carpenter) of the Taladhwaja chariot of Lord Balabhadra, is living in a small dilapidated house for the past one and a half years after devastating cyclone Fani damaged his modest dwelling.

Mohapatra said he does not have the resources to repair the house. The money he received for his chariot construction works are not even enough to meet the expenses of the family.

He said the coronavirus pandemic has compounded the situation as he is unable to get any other work. He also expressed disappointment that despite repeated complaints, his pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

After coming to know about Narasingha's plight, the Puri Srimandir Administration has assured to look into the matter. “We will certainly do our bit to ensure that he can live peacefully in the house,” said Srimandir Managing Committee Member, Madhab Chandra Mohapatra.

The situation is no different for Purnachandra Mahapatra, chief Rupakar Sevak of Taladhwaja chariot. The roof of his house was damaged and he cannot even afford repairs.

“My house is lying in a dilapidated state. No one is concerned about me. Now God is my only hope,” said Purnachandra.

Ironically, a survey was undertaken in 2013 to assess the social and economic condition of about 120 groups of servitors attached with different rituals of Puri Srimandir. However, the findings are gathering dust as nothing was done thereafter. The Srimandir administration has recently said another survey will be conducted.

“A census will be carried out to find out the details of servitors and their social and economic condition,” said Chief Administrator, Krishan Kumar.

(Edited By Bikram Keshari Jena)

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