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Temples affected, tourist footfalls down in Odisha

By Ians English

Bhubaneswar, Nov 16: The demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes by the Union government has affected the temples and tourist footfalls in Odisha.

The tourist footfalls in Jagannath temple in Puri have decreased significantly following demonetisation. The Suar Nijog (temple cooks), who sell Mahaprasad (food first offered to the deity), are not accepting the old notes affecting the earnings.

Temples affected, tourist footfalls down in Odisha

Besides, the servitors of Sri Mandir are also not accepting the scrapped denomination notes.

Prepared by 600-700 cooks and partaken by up to 50,000 pilgrims daily, Mahaprasad generates a business of Rs 8-12 lakhs, informed sources said.

The Mahaprasad cooked on the premises of the temple at Ananda Bazar (abode of peace) - deemed to be the biggest open air eatery in the world - is consumed by thousands of devotees.

"We are not accepting banned denominations in the temple following the decision of the central government. However, if a devotee offers old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 note for any service or Mahaprasad, we are not denying him or her to accept it since it is a religious place," said Ajay Gochhikar, a temple servitor.

However, the income of the temple has increased as devotees have donated more to the 'Hundi' of Jagannath temple.

"We can't stop devotees from dropping old denominations in the hundi. They are donating the old notes in the hundi. We also receive donations directly at our office and give receipts to the donors. Since the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes are no longer valid, we are not accepting the currency notes at the office," said Laxmidhar Pujapanda, public relations officer of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA).

He informed that while the temple administration receives about Rs 3.5 lakh on an average daily, it received Rs 4.83 lakh on Tuesday, Rs 5.37 lakh on Monday and Rs 4.73 lakh on Sunday.

The tourist footfalls in the state have also been affected as many domestic tourists who rely on cash while travelling are stranded and suffering long queues at banks and ATMs.

"The domestic tourist inflow has decreased about 50 per cent to the state in past several days. The foreign tourist footfall has also decreased. As they have to rely on cash for daily expenses, they are facing hardships while buying essentials such as food and water from restaurants and general stores as debit and credit cards are not accepted universally," said Srinibash Subudhi, Secretary General of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Odisha.


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