Puri: The Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) Tuesday said that Srimandir servitors and employees who have been tested positive for Covid-19 must not enter the 12th century shrine.
SJTA administrator (development) Ajay Kumar Jena said the shrine authorities will lodge FIR against any servitor or Srimandir employee if they enter the shrine despite being infected with the virus.
“There are allegations that some Covid-19 positive servitors and employees entered the shrine. The issue has been taken seriously. We have introduced several measures to check the virus spread among servitors. Srimandir employees and servitors have been directed to follow all precautionary measures strictly. Stern action will be taken against the violators,” Jena said.
Jena further said that they have sent a list of Covid-19 positive servitors and employees to the Srimandir commander. The temple commander along with the personnel of Jagannath Temple Police (JTP) will keep tab on virus-infected servitors and employees.
“The servitors and employees who have been tested positive for the virus must keep themselves in isolation either in their houses or special covidcare centres for 17 days,” Jena added.
The SJTA administrator further revealed that penalties will be imposed on servitors and employees if they chew paan or gutkha inside Srimandir. “The penalties will be imposed as per the Covid-19 norms laid down by the state government. We will collect a fine of Rs 1,000 each for first and second offences. But, the penalty would be Rs 5,000 from third offence,” Jena said.
According to Jena, three senior officials of SJTA would inspect Srimandir premises on rotation basis to ensure strict adherence to Covid-19 norms by the servitors and employees.
“The servitors and SJTA employees have been asked to wear face masks properly on Srimandir premises,” Jena added.
According to sources, at least 400 servitors and 50 employees of Srimandir have been tested positive for COVID-19.
A total of 450 persons engaged in the 12th century shrine have tested positive for the virus since August, said a senior SJTA official. He said Jagannath’s rituals, however, are continuing as usual despite the absence of so many servitors. The Jagannath temple is closed for devotees since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.