Issues like high rate of bus tickets, water-logging in Grand Road, behaviour of servitors were raised at the post-Rath Yatra assessment meeting held here on Tuesday.
The meeting was organised by the Rath Yatra Coordination Committee formed by the State Government comprising senior officials of various departments and temple management. In fact, this is for the first time that an assessment meeting was held by the committee after the Rath Yatra to look into the problems faced by the people during the annual festival.
While the meeting was presided by Tourism Minister Maheswar Mohanty, it was attended by temple chief administrator and RDC (central) Arvind Padhee, District Magistrate NK Nayak, Puri civic body chief Shantilata Pradhan, among others.
Behaviour of temple servitors came under severe criticism. Officials said the servitors atop the chariots obstructed public view of the deities, much to the disappointment of devotees who gathered in large number during Rath Yatra, Bahuda and Suna Vesha. During the Rath Yatra, noted Odissi danseuse Ileana Citaristi was allegedly manhandled by some Daitapati Nijog members for refusing to pay a ‘dakshina’ of Rs 1,000. The officials also raised concern over poor drainage and sanitation measures on the Grand Road, the venue of the Rath Yatra. Due to rain, the devotees had to wade through drain water on the Bada Danda to pull the three chariots.
Drainage apart, hygiene during the festival was not up to the mark, observed the members. They said though the East Coast Railways (ECoR) had announced to ply 82 special trains to Puri during the fete, only seven special trains plied. And all the seven trains ran late on the Rath Yatra day. It took the trains over eight hours to reach Puri from Bhubaneswar covering a distance of just 60 km.
The Transport Department also came under scanner as the passenger vehicle owners charged double the fare from pilgrims. Officials of the department said 300 passenger vehicles were booked for violation of traffic norms and over-pricing of tickets to Puri after the festival was over.
The committee resolved to clean the drains along the Grand Road twice in a year and open the defunct special drainage line from the Puri Hospital square to river Musa to flush out storm water from the Grand Road.