Jagannath Temple to promote green pilgrimage

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The Jagannath Temple in Puri would soon give devotees saplings as memento and start battery-operated vehicles to promote ‘green pilgrimage’.

The decision followed the temple’s chief administrator Arvind Padhee recent visit to Norway where he gave a presentation on environment challenges to the 12th century shrine. Trust boards of several other Hindu shrines also participated in the seminar.

“An NGO will be engaged in distributing saplings among pilgrims. The saplings will be given at the entrance of the temple and some other places in Puri. We will also distribute leaflets with environment-friendly messages,” he said.

Padhee said battery-operated vehicles would soon be pressed into service to reduce carbon footprints. “We have consulted some companies. It will take final shape shortly,” said Padhee, who is also revenue divisional commissioner (central division).

Initially, the temple body plans to launch the service between Market Square and Jagannath Temple. The temple administration is also contemplating to join hands with Barefoot, a Puri-based voluntary organization, whose ‘green rider rickshaw’ service won President’s award recently. “If possible, we will hire the green rider rickshaws to provide transport to devotees,” said a temple officer.

Asked about poor drainage and sanitation around the temple, Padhee said he would discuss the matter with the district administration. “Sanitation in and around the temple is a big concern. We will address the issue,” he said.

Heaps of garbage and overflowing drains around the shrine remain an eyesore. The temple’s kitchen, considered the largest in India, generate nearly 80 tonnes of garbage every day. The waste is often dumped along the boundary wall of the temple.

The state housing and urban development department recently slammed the district administration for failing to keep the surroundings of the temple clean and not removing encroachments.

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