Bhubaneswar: The Puri district administration is preparing two plans to conduct the annual Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath scheduled on July 1 — one expecting a heavy crowd and the other without the participation of devotees, officials said on Thursday May 5.
Devotees will be allowed to witness the Rath Yatra this year if the Covid situation continues to remain under control in the State. In such a situation, the district administration is expecting about 12 to 15 lakh devotees. So, a plan is being prepared to deal with such a huge crowd, the officials said.
However, if Covid cases rise in the coming days, the festival is likely to be held sans devotees. So, another plan is being prepared in this direction, they said.
Puri Collector Samarth Verma, who presided over the first preparatory meeting for the festival on Thursday, said, “Keeping Covid in mind, we are preparing two plans. One is to deal with the crowd if devotees are allowed during the nine-day festival, the other to deal with the situation if Covid cases mount in the coming days.”
If devotees are allowed after a gap of two years, it is expected that 1.5 to 2 times more devotees will visit Puri as compared to previous years, he said.
“Keeping the expected rush in view, all line departments have been instructed to make arrangements accordingly for the Yatra,” Verma said.
Meanwhile, the state reported 18 new Covid cases on Thursday, taking the state’s active Covid caseload to 99.