JAGATSINGHPUR: Endowment Commissioner Chittaranjan Mohapatra’s grant of exemption in bid amount to traders offering services at Sarala temple here has not gone down well with devotees and servitors. They have threatened to stage an agitation against the move.
The Endowment Commissioner has allowed an exemption of Rs 10.26 lakh to three traders who have set shops in the temple for providing various services. On Thursday, the servitors met Mohapatra and urged him to revoke the order.
The temple board had invited tender from local bidders in March last year for setting up of ‘bhog’ and earthen lamp shops. Besides, a tender was invited for parking of vehicles.
While the contract for running the ‘bhog’ shop was given to Ramesh Raul at a cost of Rs 60.77 lakh, Sarada Charan Panda and Nikunj Raul were given the contract for running the earthen lamp and vehicle parking facility at a cost of Rs 51.11 lakh and Rs 21.37 lakh respectively.
As per the condition set by the temple board, the successful bidders were supposed to pay the full amount in seven installments by November 17, 2018. However, the three did not honour the contract.
After the district administration intervened in the matter, while Ramesh paid Rs 25.22 lakh, Sarada and Nikunj are yet to pay Rs 11.24 lakh and Rs 7.26 lakh respectively. The total dues owed by the three is Rs 34.97 lakh.
Despite frequent reminders by the temple board, the traders did not pay the balance and this affected the rituals of the Goddess due to funds crunch. Ramesh then approached the Endowment Commissioner on September 4 seeking a reduction in the bid amount for his ‘bhog’ shop on the plea that his business was affected due to cyclone Fani. The commissioner, taking into account Ramesh’s plea, deducted Rs 4.95 lakh from his bid amount. Similarly, Rs 4.31 lakh and Rs 1 lakh was deducted from Sarada and Nikun’s bid amount.
The sevayats of the temple protesting the move, said the shrine did not suffer any damage in cyclone Fani as claimed by Ramesh. They said reduction in the bid amount would result in huge losses to the temple.
Meanwhile, Executive Officer of the temple Sangram Keshari Bhal said rituals in the temple have been affected due to delay by the bidders in submitting the amount. He said a copy of the Endowment Commissioner’s order has not been received yet.