BHUBANESWAR: WITH recurrence of unruly affairs at Sri Jagannath Temple in Puri creating serious public outrage, the Odisha Government on Thursday constituted a one-man judicial commission to suggest reforms in its management. The commission will be headed by retired judge of Orissa High Court Justice BP Das. He would be assisted by former temple administrator Mahimohan Tripathy.
The decision came even as the matter reached a tipping point with the IAS officers’ body taking strong objection to the manhandling of Puri Collector Arvind Agarwal during the recent Niladri Bije rituals. Invoking Sri Jagannath Temple (Administration) Act, 1952, the Government said the judicial panel’s terms of reference (ToR) will include a review of security structure at the 12th century temple in view of threats posed from terror outfits. Law and order system in and outside the premises will also be part of its scope apart from measures for conservation of the archaeological monuments as well as beautification.
While last year’s Nalabakalebara fiasco is still fresh in the memory of the millions of devotees, the delay in pahandi and violation of restrictions imposed during this year’s Rath Yatra prompted the Government to bring management of the ‘niti’ by streamlining the seva systems and organising servitors involved in the age-old practices under the ambit of the commission. The six-point ToR also includes measures required to facilitate darshan for the devotees in an orderly manner, system to make available ‘mahaprasad’, communication and affordable accommodation for pilgrims and vehicular parking as well. Training for different categories of servitors and people entrusted with the responsibilities for smooth conduct of rituals, welfare, health, housing and education for their family members will also be a major area of consideration for the Das panel. Besides, a remuneration system for the sevayats, priests and other endowment officials as well as popularisation of Jagannathculture will form part of the ToR of the Commission.
The judicial commission move came on a day when the IAS officers’ association of the State held a meeting here to condemn in strong words the misbehaviour meted out to the Puri Collector during Niladri Bije rituals on Sunday last.
Agarwal presented details of the incident before the association. While the IAS body fully backed the Puri Collector, it has demanded action against the servitors who were involved in the fracas.