BHUBANESWAR:With only three days remaining for the Rath Yatra, the State Government is rushing against time to put in place infrastructure and other necessities to accommodate 30 lakh visitors expected during the festival.
After doubts were expressed over the quality of infrastructure work, including completion of drainage and sewerage systems, preparedness of the administration to supply safe drinking water to such a huge number of visitors is being questioned. The administration expects over 30 lakh visitors to the town during the Nabakalebara festival.
Doubts over provision of safe drinking water have cropped up after test reports found majority of samples drawn from different sources contaminated.
According to sources, 679 water samples have been tested in Puri and reports have shown that 70 of them are unfit for drinking. Out of them, 37 water sources are contaminated. These contaminated water sources include 23 deep tube wells, 10 bore wells, a tube well and a tap.
Minister for Housing and Urban Development Pushpendra Singhdeo said steps have been taken to provide safe drinking water to visitors.
Hotels in which water was found to be contaminated have been asked to close down or improve, he said.
The Minister said shallow tube wells have been installed for temporary shelters housing police and other visitors. The water is not meant for drinking, he said and added that drinking water are being provided in these shelters by tankers.
Meanwhile, the State Government has asked all the Secretaries to proceed to Puri and camp in the town till Rath Yatra is over. The Secretaries have been asked to take charge of preparations of their respective Departments.
Minister of State for Tourism and Culture Ashok Panda told mediapersons that Jajabara Panthika has been constructed at Patnaikia near Sakshigopal for visitors. Similarly, an interpretation centre, dining hall, toilet and shelter have been constructed at Jagannath Ballav Math at Puri at a cost of Rs 5.75 crore.
Secretary in Tourism and Culture Department Arvind Padhee said 200 mobile toilets will be pressed into service at a cost of Rs 37 lakh during the festival. Besides, 12 permanent and three mobile toilets have been constructed by the Puri Municipality for the festival.