BHUBANESWAR: WITH the decision of Shri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) to reopen the Puri shrine from December 23 giving a fillip to demands for opening of other religious institutions across the State, the government on Monday said district collectors have been empowered to take the decision at their local level.
Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy stated that the government has already empowered the collectors to take decisions to open religious places for public worship after discussing with stakeholders and enforcing the standard operating procedures. “It is understood that the process is on for opening religious places’’, Tripathy said in a tweet.
The State Endowment Commission has also submitted a proposal to the government on opening of religious places.Endowment Commissioner Chittaranjan Mohapatra told mediapersons that considering the Covid-19 pandemic, large number of devotees will not be allowed into temples. Authorities will be asked to ensure proper social distancing, keep sanitisers at the entrance gates and sanitise temple premises regularly.
“Devotees will be allowed darshan of deities but there will be no major religious functions. The government will take a final call on the proposal,” he said.Meanwhile, collectors are yet to convene meetings of priests and stakeholders in their districts to decide on reopening of shrines.
Priests across the State have been demanding reopening of temples as their only source of income has been stalled for around nine months now. Sources, however, said the government is wary of reopening temples this month as there is every possibility of heavy rush of crowds for the New Year.