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Dilip Kumar

Puri: The Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) has decided to provide health insurance cover to the all the priests performing various rituals at the 12th-century shrine throughout the year.

SJTA chief Administrator Krishan Kumar held a meeting today in presence of other temple officials and servitors and approved the resolution.

The temple authorities have roped in the New India Assurance to provide health insurance coverage for all the sevaks of shree Jagannath temple,” SJTA informed through a tweet.

As many as 2,500 sevak families would benefit from the approved insurance scheme, it added.

“The initiative will provide a basic coverage of Rs 2 lakh per family and an additional cover of Rs 1 lkah for critical illness,” it stated.

The insurance scheme would also provide an additional sum of Rs 3 lakh for up to 25 servitors/or their family members for treatment of cancer and kidney transplantation.

The temple administration will look forward for an effective partnership with the company for addressing the health requirement of the priests and their families, it further tweeted.

Health insurance coverage was a long-standing demand of the servitors. The administration had recommended the Odisha Law Department to fix modalities for health insurance for the servitors.

Although there is a public perception that all priests earn well from the shrine activities, most of them struggle very hard to make ends meet, say sources.

Many servitors’ families have been included under Below Poverty Line (BPL) and many others continue to reel under severe financial crunch.

Most of the sevaks are paid a minimum amount of remuneration based on their duty performed for the deities. Several others are also dependant on the donations from the devotees to boost their financial condition.

Though the temple administration had started a group insurance policy for the servitors in 2006, it was discontinued in 2011 due to certain reasons.

(Edited By Suryakant Jena)

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