BHUBANESWAR: With the Supreme Court indicating its nod to the historic Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra at Puri, the Odisha government on Monday activated its administrative machinery on a war footing for smooth conduct of the annual festival to be held on June 23.
Chief Secretary A K Tripathy and Director General of Police (DGP) Abhay rushed to the pilgrim town to make the necessary arrangements.
"The DGP and I are rushing to Puri to take stock of the situation as per the direction of the chief minister. We will camp there," Tripathy said.
"I am confident that the Ratha Yatra will be conducted smoothly tomorrow without devotees and strict adherence to the COVID-19 guidelines," he said.
The Puri district administration held a preparatory meeting for the historic event and different departments were directed to keep their apparatus ready for the festival.
All the departments like health, police, drinking water, energy, sanitation and local municipality are ready," Puri district collector Balwant Singh said and appealed to the people to cooperate with the administration and maintain discipline.
Shree Jagannath Temple Administration chief administrator Krishna Kumar said all the departments are well prepared as they are ready with their micro-planning.
The priests of the 12th century shrine performed the ritualistic 'Agyan Mala Bije' (a token garland signifying permission of the deity for the festival) for the three chariots.
Senior servitors of the temple carried the 'Agyan Mala' from the sanctum sanctorum of the temple and went in a procession to the three gigantic chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra and performed puja.
According to the tradition, the three chariots will be pulled only after getting 'Agyan Mala' from the Lord.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) core committee, headed by N C Pal, also inspected the three wooden chariots and verified that they are safe to be pulled.
The Puri municipal authorities have asked all street vendors to vacate the Grand Road (Bada Danda) by Monday evening so that chariots can be pulled on Tuesday.
"We have no objection to vacating the place. The shopkeepers are happy that the chariots will roll on the Grand Road," said a shopkeeper.
Police said it had received a report saying that eggs were hurled at the house of Odisha Vikash Parishad president Sushanta Padhi, who had moved the Supreme Court to stall the Rath Yatra at Puri.
Padhi's car was also damaged in stone pelting by angry people who also raised slogans against him prompting lathicharge by police to disperse the crowd. Forces were deployed near his house at Bomikhal in Bhubaneswar.
Police said that CCTV footage is being checked to identify the attackers.
The apex court, while disposing Padhi's petition, had on June 18 issued an interim order putting a stay on the conduct of the Ratha Yatra at Puri and elsewhere in the state.
The petition had pointed out that there was a risk to public health if the Ratha Yatra was allowed to be held.