Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, Mar 9:
Senior Odisha IAS officer Suresh Mohapatra, who took over as the chief administrator of the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) today, has exuded confidence that a solution will be found to the problem with the Daitapatis at the meeting scheduled with them later today.
“A meeting with the Daitapatis has been scheduled this evening. I am hopeful that a solution will be found,” said Mohapatra after taking over as the chief administrator of SJTA for the second time in his career.
“It is a great responsibility. I will seek the cooperation of the temple staff and the people at large to ensure that the rituals connected with the Nabakalebara go off smoothly,” he said.
A notification appointing Mohapatra, who is the Energy secretary, as the chief administrator was issued on March 3.
Hopes of a solution have soared ahead of the meeting in the evening where the chief administrator would discuss with the Daitapati Nijog their grievances in an effort to find a way out of the impasse.
Mohapatra, who has been collector of Puri in the past, is known to have a good rapport with servitor groups in the Shree Jagannath Temple. His appointment has already elicited a positive signal from the Daitapatis, who have agreed to attend today’s meeting as ‘a matter of courtesy’ after refusing to attend any meeting convened by the administration.
The Daiatapatis have been sulking since last year’s Rath Yatra when the government barred devotees from climbing the chariots of the deities during their nine-day sojourn to their aunt’ place as per the advice of the Puri Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati. They are up in arms over the government’s failure to compensate them adequately for the ‘losses’ suffered by them on account of the ban on devotees climbing the chariots and have threatened not to cooperate in the rituals of Nabakalebara.
The Daitapatis had refused to accept the offer of Rs 40 lakh made by the government as compensation amount for their ‘losses’, calling it ‘a drop in the ocean’ and declaring complete non-cooperation with the administration till the matter was resolved. The ultimatum has put the government in a tight situation as Daitapatis play a key role in the Nabakalebara Yatra of Lord Jagannath.
The Daitapati Nijog had declared to go ahead with preparations for the Nabakalebara Yatra on its own without taking a single pie from the government.