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Saswat Singhdeo

Puri: The Chief Administrator of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA), Krishan Kumar today informed that COVID-19 tests will be conducted for all the Biswakarma servitors (carpenters) engaged in construction work of chariots for Rath Yatra of the Holy Trinity.

After a meeting with servitors and Biswakarmas, Kumar today informed that a proposal has been given to all the Biswakarmas to stay at Bhakta Niwas during the construction work for which all arrangements will be made by the administration.

"We have proposed to make staying arrangements for all the carpenters engaged in the chariot construction work in Puri. There are nearly 150 rooms in two Bhakta Niwas where the servitors will stay if they agree. This will not only ensure safety of their family members, but for all the residents of Puri," said Kumar.

The SJTA Chief Administrator also informed that all the Biswakarmas will be brought to 'Rath-Khala' in buses and an area of 200 feet will be allocated for the construction work so that social distancing is maintained.

Speaking on the development, Puri district collector Balwant Singh said, "Everybody should come forward and make sure that Puri continues remain green zone."

Earlier on Thursday, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) gave its approval to commence the construction of chariots of Lord Balabhadra, Mahaprabhu Jagannath and Devi Subhadra making it clear that the construction activity should be carried out as per COVID-19 lockdown guidelines.

The Home Ministry also clarified that the decision regarding holding of Rath Yatra is to be taken by the State Government keeping in view the conditions prevailing during the festival.

In a letter to Odisha Chief Secretary, the MHA said that Rath construction is allowed in the Rath-khala, which is situated on both sides of the Grand Road (Bada Danda) in front of the Srimandir Temple Office and Sri Nahar (Palace).

However, the temple management has been asked to ensure that no religious congregation takes place in the Ratha-khala. This apart, complete segregation of the Rath-khala should be ensured, the letter mentioned.

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