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Puri's Jagannath Rath Yatra in trouble over scarcity of wood for chariots

Puri: Sri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) is facing acute shortage of big logs of wood required for construction of three chariots for the Lord's Annual Rath Yatra, scheduled on June 29.

The issue was discussed at the first coordination committee meeting held here today under the chairmanship of Revenue Divisional Commissioner, Central range, S K Vasist.

Puri temple faces wood scarcity for chariotsDevotees gather as three giant chariots are pulled during the Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath in Puri in June 2012. This year marks the 135th annual Rath yatra, where wooden images or idols of Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra, are mounted on ceremonial chariots and taken out in a procession, where hundreds of thousands participate. Pic/AFP

"We require at least 42 big logs for making of Tumba (the middle of the wheels). But, so far the state government could supply only 28 pieces of logs of required dimension," said an official after the meeting.

As the required log size is not available in the forests under Nayagarh Division, arrangement will be made to procure such big logs from nearby forests at Daspalla and Boudh areas.

Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Nayagarh has assured the meeting that big logs would be provided soon, he said. Sources said that about 13,000 cubic feet of wood worth Rs 60 lakh is required every year for construction of three temple size chariots.

Therefore, about 1,000 trees of 862 species need to be cut annually for construction of Lord's chariots.

Though the environmentalists had earlier raised voice against cutting of large number of trees for making chariots every year, crores of Jagannath devotees have demanded continuance of the tradition of celebrating the annual car festival in chariots made up of fresh wood.

This apart, the meeting also discussed different issues like drinking water, sanitation, health, power supply and security during the annual car festival where about 10 lakh people were expected to congregate on June 29.

"As many as 110 platoons of security personnel will be required to man the car festival. We are taking all possible steps to ensure a peaceful car festival this time," said Inspector General of Police, Central range, R P Koche.

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