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Not so rich budget for God of the Poor

March 25th, 2013

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“Dinabandhu” or “God of the Poor” as Lord Jagannath is called, is not exactly the richest God despite all the luxuries he is said to be bestowed with and the riches he is claimed to possess. A Rs 143 cr budget, recently passed by the managing committee of Sri Jagannath Temple, does not necessarily mean that affluence of the Lord has multiplied overnight.

Budgetary provision for the coming fiscal is about ` 65 cr more than the previous year when it was pegged at `78.37 cr. It is the “Nabakalebar” festival of the Lord Jagannath, to be observed in 2015, which has pushed the budgetary needs of the 12th century shrine.

An allocation of `25 cr has been made for massive ground works for ‘Nabakalebar’ since the festival is expected to attract millions from across the globe. A sum of `2.6 cr was earmarked for the annual Rath Yatra expenses.

Similarly, the managing body has proposed an allocation of `5.16 cr towards the welfare fund for servitors to increase their allowances, while `26.94 cr is to be spent towards security of the temple. A one-way entrance mechanism for visitors is proposed to make the festival hassle-free. In fact, Chief Administrator Arvind Padhee and Puri SP Anup Kumar Sahu had visited the Maha Kumbh in a bid to understand the huge preparations it involved so that best practices can be adopted during the “Nabakalebar” during which new idols for the deities are formed.

Though this year’s budget was a surplus one, the rising expenditure of the temple has necessitated more finances to be mobilised by the administration which is leaving no stone unturned to augment resources for the purpose. “We are in the process of reclaiming the land of Lord Jagannath from encroachment and have adopted a uniform policy. We have set a target of collecting `50 cr from the proceeds,” said Padhee.

Under the policy, poor and middle income group in possession of the Lord’s property will be given a chance to get the land settled in their name at a reasonable price while the land mafia will be dealt with firmly.

Similarly, a large chunk of the temple land, which is in the clutches of the land grabbers near Bhubaneswar and Jatni, will be acquired. The temple administration has already decided to enter into an agreement with Bhubaneswar Development Authority for an auction of land once made free from encroachers. Padhee hopes that the move will make the Temple richer by at least `400 cr to Rs 500 cr.

It is also proposing to move its fixed deposits and corpus to banks that offer higher interest rate. “We have about Rs 202 cr in FDs and corpus but will park the funds with banks that give us higher rate of return so that the temple generates close to `20 cr a year,” Padhee said.

The Puri temple annually gets a grant in the range of `5 cr to Rs 10 cr towards festivals, temple administration, remuneration to employees, energy and other charges. Sairat, or the minor minerals from the landed property, forms another source of earning. The income from Sairat is expected to cross `20 cr this time. Similarly, land revenue fetches a major chunk, while income from “hundi” now stands at `6 cr, almost doubled in the last couple of years.

The `143 cr budget for Sri Jagannath temple may sound inviting, but the 12th century temple does not compare to some of the major seats of worship down South. Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanams made a budgetary provision of `2,260 cr for the coming fiscal.

In need of financial help

* Budgetary provision for the coming fiscal is `65 cr more than last year’s allocation.

* `25 cr has been made for massive ground works for ‘Nabakalebar.’

* `2.6 cr has been earmarked for the annual Rath Yatra expenses.

* Rs 5.16 cr towards welfare fund for servitors to increase their allowances.

* Rs 26.94 cr is to be spent towards security of the temple.

On cards

Encroached temple land to be taken back.

Poor and middle income group in possession of the property will be given a chance to get the land settled at a reasonable price.

Land once freed from the mafia to be auctioned.

Divine differences
The Rs 143 cr budget for Sri Jagannath temple is peanuts. Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanams has made a budgetary provision of Rs 2,260 cr for the coming fiscal.

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