The Union Home Ministry on Thursday made it clear that the decision of holding the Rath Yatra in Puri would be taken by the Odisha government keeping in mind the prevailing COVID-19 situation, but allowed construction of the chariot for the religious procession.
In a letter to the Odisha government, the Home Ministry said the activity of chariot construction was allowed to be undertaken in the 'Ratha Khala', which is situated on both sides of the Grand Road in front of the Jagannath temple office and the Sri Nahar palace, subject to fulfilling conditions.
No religious congregation should take place in the 'Ratha Khala' and complete segregation of it should be ensured, the ministry said. However, the decision of holding the annual Ratha Yatra would be taken by the state government, keeping in view the conditions prevailing at that point of time, the letter said. According to the guidelines issued for the ongoing lockdown, religious congregation is strictly prohibited.
The ministry said the managing committee of the Shri Jagannath Temple, following a meeting on Monday, urged for allowing construction of the chariot in the 'Ratha Khala'.
The committee said no religious congregation takes place in the 'Ratha Khala' as it is a workplace and not a public place accessible to the general public. However, for effective COVID-19 management, complete segregation of the 'Ratha Khala' will be done from the adjoining Grand Road and adjoining properties by erecting a cloth partition wall so that public can be effectively prohibited, the temple committee said.
The committed added that the national directives for COVID-19 management would be fully implemented, the home ministry letter said.