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Express News Service | Puri | July 2, 2021:: Like the previous year, this year’s Ratha Yatra festival would be organised without the participation of devotees and in strict adherence to safety protocols to contain the spread of coronavirus. District Collector Samarth Verma on Thursday reviewed the preparations for annual Rath Yatra scheduled to be held on July 12 this year.
The Srimandir servitors testing negative for Covid-19 would be allowed to participate in the pulling of the three chariots along the Bada Danda (Grand Road) to Gundicha temple. The second phase Covid testing of servitors is underway, Verma told mediapersons.
To beat the scorching heat, the entire Bada Danda stretch would be cooled by flooding it with water. This apart, drinking water facility and first-aid units would be made operational for servitors during pulling of the chariots. No one else would be allowed to step onto the Bada Danda during chariot pulling.
The Collector said unsafe buildings would be identified and sealed. Special care is being taken to upgrade sanitation, clean drains, repair roads and illuminate the city, particularly Grand Road, the venue of the festival. A meeting with Chhatisha Nijog (apex body of temple servitors) would be held within two days to finalise other aspects of the grand fete. A fresh SOP for the festival will be issued soon, Verma added.
Puri SP K Vishal Singh said no one would be allowed to go to the rooftops to witness the Rath Yatra proceedings. The entire town would be divided into 12 security zones. Similarly, Bada Danda would be divided into three sections. All the roads connecting to the Grand Road would be sealed during the event. Besides, Section 144 would be clamped on Bada Danda.
All three entry routes to the pilgrim town will be sealed. Railway services will remain suspended till the festival is over. Police personnel would monitor the movement of people through CCTV cameras installed at various strategic points.
Around 80 platoons of force including officers of various ranks would be deployed in and around the town for the fete, the SP added. Meanwhile, the ritual of massaging the Trinity with ‘Phuluri’ oil in the Anasara ghar (sick room) has been completed. Construction of the three chariots is nearing completion.
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