Historic Bali Jatra In Cuttack Hangs In Balance

Cuttack: With the annual Bali Yatra scheduled to kick off on the banks of the Mahanadi from November 23, the prospects of the historic festival now hangs in balance due to escalating dispute between Bali Jatra traders’ body and the district administration.

Reports reaching from the Bali Jatra ground near the Gadagadia Ghat said that the Tent Owners’ Association has started dismantling the tents.

Talking to mediapersons, secretary of Bali Yatra Byabasayee Sangh, Sukant Mohanty alleged that the dispute had risen not due to any notification by the district administration but the sudden and impulsive decision by the new district collector.

“We have no time to set up our stalls at the venue. Yesterday was last day for us to set up the stalls. We had waited for a meeting with the district administration yesterday over its new decision. But the administration did not call us to the meeting. As a result, the tent owners’ association, the Doli (swing) association and the supply association had a meeting with us and took a decision not to go ahead with their work. We have decided not to put up our stalls and boycott the Bali Jatra this year as the decision of the administration does not fit into our business. Moreover, we don’t want to incur the loss due to the haphazard decision of the district collector,” Mohanty pointed out.

When asked whether Byabasayee Sangh would reconsider its decision if the district administration decides to change the new rules, Mohanty said the Sangh has decided not to have a meeting with the district administration. “However, the Sangh will reconsider its decision if the local MLA intervenes in the matter,” he added.

Mohanty also made it clear that if the Bali Jatra is stopped this year, the district collector would be held responsible.

It may be recalled that the Sangh had earlier protested against the decision of the district administration over the allocation of the plot for the traders. However, the dispute, which was later resolved after the administration revised the rules, cropped up again as the administration decided to float tenders to put up the Doli at the venue, which was vehemently opposed by the traders.

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