Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri/Bhubaneswar, June 23:
With less than a month left for the Rath Yatra, it is obvious to anyone who has been to Odisha’s holy town of Puri of late that infrastructural work specially undertaken for the Nabakalebara festival just cannot be completed on time. But the man put in charge of supervising the progress of the work would have us believe that ‘All is Well’.
“There is no problem,” boasted Maheswar Mohanty, chairman of the Nabakalebara Infrastructure Supervision Committee (NSIC) and local MLA, at the end of hectic confabulations with the four ministers deputed by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to camp in Puri and expedite projects to ensure a hassle-free Nabakalebara, expected to draw a crowd of over three million.
“Cleaning of drains is on by the Municipality; it’s almost in the last phase. I had reviewed their progress three-four days back and found that only four to six medium drains are left for cleaning. The cleaning of the main drain on the Grand Road and Red Cross Bhawan-Banki Muhan drain have been given to Jamshedpur Utilities and Services Company (JUSCO), a Tata Steel subsidiary company, and it’s doing its job. There is no problem. Municipality authorities have kept their sanitation drive on,” Mohanty told reporters in Puri today.
The NSIC head had a ready explanation for the tardy progress in the work on laying of sewerage lines. “Laying of sewerage lines cannot be completed, but it has nothing to do with Nabakalebara. That’s an old work it’s no way connected to Nabakalebara and it’s not going to affect Nabakalebara in any way,” he said.
Health minister Atanu Sabyascahi Nayak was more guarded. “We have reviewed different programmes and tasks undertaken by the Health department at Puri and here to see to it that no problem arises on the health front during the Nabakalebara. Infrastructural work is on it’s in the final stages. Our focus is on deployment of doctors, ambulances and food safety,” said Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak talking to reporters in Bhubaneswar.
Chastened by the rap on the knuckles by the Chief Minister yesterday, the normally voluble Law minister Arun Sahu was even more circumspect than Nayak. “Discussions on different aspects are on for a smooth, disciplined and on time Nabakalebara Rath Yatra,” was all that he was willing to say when cornered by TV crews for the mandatory byte today.
Four young ministers – Law Minister Arun Sahu, Health & Family Welfare Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak, Housing & Urban Development Minister Puspendra Sahu and Energy Minister Pranab Prakash Das – are camping in Puri from today as per Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s orders yesterday.
They have been tasked with ensuring a smooth Nabakalebara Rath Yatra in the backdrop of the all-round flak that the state government has drawn over the fiasco during the Brahma parivartan of the presiding deities of Shree Jagannath temple in Puri last Tuesday.
Before Health & Family Welfare Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak’s arrival at Puri, the other three ministers had reached Puri and held discussions with Maheswar Mohanty and Food Supply and Consumer Affairs minister Sanjay Das Burma Minister over the progress of infrastructure work with regard to the mega Nabakalebara Rath Yatra.
Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik called up the two ministers Nayak and Das to his chamber and held discussions with them before their departure for Puri.
The presence of the young guns may help put officials in charge of infrastructural work on their toes. But work has fallen so far behind schedule that it would be miracle of sorts if they pull it off.