SHIRDI: Jalgaon collector Rubal Agarwal took charge as the chief executive officer (CEO) of Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust (SSST) on Thursday.

Addressing a press conference later, Agarwal said her main focus will be on Sai the Samadhi centenary event to be held in October.

“The temple is gearing up to celebrate the centenary of Saibaba’s Samadhi. A series of events will be held for the next one-and-a-half year and millions of devotees from across the globe will visit Shirdi. My main focus will be on proper organisation and conduct of this event. Together, we will make the event memorable for one and all,” she said.

Earlier, Agrawal reached Shirdi on Thursday afternoon and performed the ‘Madhyanna Aarti’ (Afternoon Aarti) of Saibaba on Thursday. She reached the CEO office where outgoing CEO Bajirao Shinde handed over the charge to her.

“I am happy to be given the responsibility of the temple that too ahead of a mega event. We will work as a team and with the help of local administration and state government, we will organise a memorable centenary celebrations in Shirdi,” said the CEO.

Agrawal will be the first IAS rank officer to head Shirdi Trust. Until now, an officer of deputy collector cadre used to be appointed on the post. In February 2017, the Supreme Court had directed the state government to appoint an IAS Rank officer as CEO on Shirdi trust before March 31.

Outgoing CEO Bajirao Shinde said his tenure was eventful and he has spiritual satisfaction while leaving Shirdi. “I consider myself lucky to be the last administrator of Shirdi from the non-IAS rank. I was fortunate as I could complete many milestones during my tenure. Shirdi is emerging to be an international tourist destination and this place has a great potential for development,” he said.

On the eve of completion of 100 years to Shri Saibaba Samadhi in 2018, the SSST is planning to organize ‘Shri Saibaba Mahasamadhi Shatabdhi Sohala’ ceremony. Various religious, cultural and social events are scheduled during the centenary year.

The trust has also submitted a development proposal of Rs 3,050 crore to the state government. Major portion of this amount is expected to be sanctioned in the state budget.

The trust has also decided to install a 100 ft statue of Saibaba to mark the occasion of his 100th death anniversary. Well-known architect and Bollywood designer Nitin Desai will be the in-charge of this project. Many actors, singers and performers from Indian film industry are expected to be a part of the centenary celebrations.

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