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Thursday, June 04, 2020

MHA nod for Rath construction, says Odisha to decide on yatra

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told the state that construction may be started by following adequate physical distancing norms.

Written by Deeptiman Tiwary | New Delhi | Updated: May 8, 2020 5:53:56 am

The religious procession attracts close to 10 lakh devotees each year and is typically held in June-end or early July.

The Centre has left it to the Odisha government to take a call on holding its annual Rath Yatra — an indication that religious congregations may be allowed after May 17.

The religious procession attracts close to 10 lakh devotees each year and is typically held in June-end or early July.

In response to a letter from the Odisha government seeking permission for rath (chariot) construction during the lockdown period, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told the state that construction may be started by following adequate physical distancing norms.

“However, decisions regarding holding of Ratha Yatra be taken by the state government keeping in view the conditions prevailing at that point of time,” the MHA wrote.

Odisha had told the ministry that the Jagannath Temple managing committee had on May 4 decided to begin construction in in “Rath khala”, the area for building the chariots. It had argued that no congregation takes place in the Rath khala, as it is a workplace, and not a public spot.

“However, for effective COVlD-19 management, complete segregation of the Rath-khala from adjoining Grand Road and adjoining properties by erecting a cloth partition wall can be done so that public can be effectively prohibited,” The state had said. It said the Centre’s lockdown guidelines would be fully implemented.

In response, the MHA wrote that “…activity of Rath construction is allowed…subject to the conditions… that no religious congregation takes place in the Rath-khala” and “complete segregation of Ratha-khala is ensured”.

“The new guidelines on lockdown measures issued by MHA on 1st May, 2020, including the National Directives for Covid-19 Management, should be compulsorily adhered to,” it stated.

The yatra coincides with the Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra held in Gujarat, which doesn’t attract as many devotees.

Eid is expected to be celebrated on May 23, days after the latest phase of the lockdown ends.

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