BHUBANESWAR: The Jagannath Temple in Puri, one of the holiest places for most Hindus, will be shut to the general public until 31 March, 2020. The government has taken this decision, as a measure to contain Covid-19, said Dr Krishan Kumar, Secretary- Works and Chief Administrator of the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA). Rituals though will continue to be carried out.

The administration had already imposed strict rules for visitors including refusing to allow devotees to touch the Garuda and Aruna pillars for example.

Under considerable pressure for having saved Rs 545 crore of the temple’s funds in Yes Bank, the administration also had this good news to share. A sum of Rs 397 crore saved as a fixed deposit has been remitted by Yes Bank to the temple’s SBI account, this includes interest earnins. To more fixed deposits of Rs 156 crore in total have yet to mature and will be transferred to the SBI account after the 30th of March, Yes Bank has informed the SJTA in a letter dated 19 March, 2020.

Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation has identified three city hotels, Ginger Hotel, Empires and Hotel Kalinga Ashok that will offer pay for using quarantine rooms. For a sum of Rs 2500 a day, which will cover the room, three meals and two bottles of water, people can stay at these hotels for up to 14 days adhering to the quarantine protocol issued by the health and family welfare department. Designated medical officers will be available if required. According to Subroto Bagchi, Odisha government’s spokesperson for all Covid-19 related efforts, 540 beds have been made available across 30 districts in the state for quarantine purposes.

On account of poor bookings, the East Coast Railways has cancelled five pairs of trains from Friday until March 31. These are the Puri-Howrah bi-weekly Garib Rath Express (12882) and the train returning from Howrah (12881), the Bhubaneswar-Dhanbad Garib Rath Express (12832) that makes a return journey from Dhanbad (12831) three times a week, the Bhubaneswar-New Delhi, Duronto Express (12281) which returns from New Delhi (12282 ) on 26 March, the Puri-Howrah Shatabdi Express (12278 ) and the returning train on that route (12277) and finally the Tirupati-Visakhapatnam Express (22708) and its counterpart starting from Visakhapatnam.

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