Puri servitors raise concerns over non-implementation of health scheme

Puri: The Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) initiative of providing health insurance cover to the servitors of the Puri Srimandir has not provided much respite to the temple servitors as they allege they have not benefited from the scheme.

Around 9609 servitors and their family members were included in the servitors’ welfare scheme this year. The SJTA had approved an annual premium deposit of Rs 1.15 crore for the servitors and their families under the health insurance scheme.

However, despite being included in the scheme, the ‘poor’ servitors have expressed concerns that the cards have failed to provide health care benefits to them.

Harihar Panda, a servitor diagnosed with stomach cancer since 2016, alleged that though he has been included in the health scheme, he has neither got free treatment nor could he avail any medical help from anyone.

Panda stated that he has taken more than Rs 10 lakh from some money lenders for his treatment in Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai. But due to financial problems, he has not been able to go to Mumbai for further treatment. “I don’t have money for further treatment. If the temple administration assures any help, I will go to Mumbai and continue my treatment,” Panda said.

Not only Panda, wife of servitor Kanha Panda has been undergoing treatment for breast cancer and spent Rs 4 lakh for the medical expenses, but without the benefits of the health card. Even after repeated requests to the SJTA, the administration is reluctant to extend any help, the servitors alleged.

On the other hand, SJTA (rituals) has asked the ailing servitors to inform the matter to the temple administration to ensure proper implementation of the schemes.

Chief Administrator (Rituals), Pradeep Kumar Das said, “They have to submit the card along with an application here, and then we will definitely look into the matter. The scheme has been implemented since 3 years and I have not seen any complaints related to the implementation of the schemes. This year, a premium of Rs 1.15 crore has been approved.”