Preparation for Navakalebara festival begins

Bhubaneswar: Expecting a huge turn out of devotees at Puri for Lord Jagannath`s "Navakalebara" (change of wooden body) in 2015, state government on Saturday decided to take up steps for road widening, improvement of rail service and health facilities and security arrangement.

"As we expect a turn out of about 50 lakh people during the Navakalebara festival, several measures need to be taken in advance," chief administrator of Sri Jagannath Temple, P K Mohapatra told reporters after Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik reviewed preparedness for the festival.

The government is also taking measures to tighten security during the festival in view of intelligence inputs on possible terrorist activities in Puri, Mohapatra said.

The Navakalebara festival was last held in 1996, Mohapatra said adding more than 20 lakh people had visited the holy town then.

In a bid to ensure smooth movement of vehicles during the festival, the state government had asked National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to complete four laning of the road between Bhubaneswar and Puri by October, 2013.

The work for the four laning roads would start next month, he said.

As a measure to control to traffic and provide lodging for tourists, the state government decided to prepare a comprehensive mobility plan. Though there were 20,000 beds in the hotels of Puri, the government decided to set up temporary tents and toilets.

This apart, the government also issued direction to different departments to make adequate arrangements for the festival.