Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 4:
The Odisha government today appointed 1986 batch IAS officer Suresh Chandra Mohapatra as the chief administrator of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA).
Mohapatra, who is presently principal secretary, Energy, has been relieved of his post as special officer, Nabakalebara after the new appointment.
He will relieve Bikash Chandra Mohapatra, who was holding additional charge as Chief Administrator SJTA in addition to his posting as RDC (Central).
Mohapatra, who has been the chief administrator of the Shri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) in the past, reportedly enjoys a good rapport with the Daitapati sevayats who play a crucial role in the Nabakalebara rituals.
Mohapatra was also the collector of Puri during the period when stairs were laid for the first time to enable devotees to climb on to the chariots and touch the deities during the Rath Yatra.
Seen against this background, Mohapatra’s appointment as the chief administrator of SJTA appears to be a conciliatory gesture to the all-powerful Daitapatis and other servitors, who can hold the Nabakalebara festival to ransom, on the part of the government.
The Daitas, it may be noted, have been sulking since last year’s Rath Yatra when devotees were banned from going atop the chariots during the nine-day sojourn of the Trinity as per the advice of the Shankaracharya. They claim the government has gone back on its promise to compensate them for the huge ‘losses’ they suffered on account of the ban.