Odisha Congress Demands White Paper On Puri Heritage Corridor Project; To Launch Tulsi Yatra On Dec 1

Bhubaneswar: The Congress on Monday demanded a white paper from the Odisha government on Shree Jagannath Temple Heritage Corridor project in Puri, and announced its plan to launch ‘Tulsi Yatra’ from December 1 over alleged mismanagement of the 12th century shrine.

Addressing a press meet in Bhubaneswar, Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Sarat Pattanayak said as a part of the ‘Tulsi Yatra’, basil leaves will be collected from houses across 314 blocks of the state and offered to Lord Jagannath at the temple.

The programme aims at registering the party’s protest against “mismanagement” at the 12th-century shrine in the pilgrim town, he said, adding that the government should take immediate steps for opening all the four gates and the Ratna Bhandar of Jagannath Temple.

The yatra will create mass awareness among devotees, and the state government will be forced to open all four gates of the temple as well as its ‘Ratna Bhandar’ (inner chamber of the treasury), which has been closed since 1978, the PCC chief said.

Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) chief administrator Ranjan Kumar Dash had earlier stated that three gates of the shrine are closed due to the heritage project work.

The PCC chief appealed to people of the state to actively take part in the ‘Tulsi Yatra’.
Former OPCC president Prasad Harichandan said a white paper with all information about the project being executed around the Shree Jagannath Temple, including its objective, implementation and cost should be published.

“The Odisha government has announced that it will dedicate the project to the people on January 17, 2024… We demand all details about the project for our future generations,” he said.

Giving details on Tulsi Yatra, the Congress leaders said the decision to organise the programme was taken hours after 10 devotees fell unconscious on Friday due to heavy rush at the temple.
A huge number of people visit the temple this time of the year as it is the holy month of ‘Kartik’, they said, adding that they are facing difficulties as the administration closed three of the four gates, and is allowing entry only through the ‘Singha Dwar’.

“We demand the opening of all the gates in order to avoid major accidents, like a stampede, as more devotees will visit the temple during the ‘Panchuka’ — the last five days of Kartik,” Pattnayak said.

The Congress block presidents will lead the programme, and people from all walks of life will be brought in for it, he added.

Pattnayak said his party was worried over the safety of devotees visiting the temple, and the treasures in its ‘Ratna Bhandar’, which was last opened and inventory taken way back in 1978.

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