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PwDs Access at Puri Temple



  Sep 05, 2023

Puri Temple Access for PwDs


1. What changes are being made to the Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri for PwDs (Persons with Disabilities)?

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has approved the construction of a ramp near the northern gate of the temple to facilitate the entry of differently-abled devotees.
 

2. Who proposed the construction of the ramp at the temple?

The Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) proposed the idea, and it received approval from ASI.
 

3. Have there been previous attempts to provide barrier-free access to the temple for PwDs?

Yes, in 2015, following campaigns by disability activists, a steel ramp was installed and wooden wheelchairs were provided to help PwDs. However, this only allowed access up to the Lion’s Gate, and the main shrine remained inaccessible.
 

4. Why was the previous attempt not completely successful?

The main shrine remained inaccessible because wheelchairs were only allowed up to the Lion’s Gate. Beyond that point, differently-abled individuals had to be physically carried inside, which posed risks, especially for those with neurological injuries.
 

5. How did the issue escalate to legal proceedings?

A petition was presented to the Orissa High Court invoking the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, seeking full access to the shrine. The court instructed the temple's managing committee to make a decision, leading to contempt petitions and show cause notices when the decision was delayed.
 

6. What is the current plan for improving access to the temple for PwDs?

A stone ramp will be constructed, allowing wheelchairs carrying individuals with mobility and visual impairments to enter directly into the temple's sanctum sanctorum.
 

7. What larger initiative is the Jagannath Temple a part of regarding PwD access?

The temple is part of an access audit of 14 popular shrines under the tourism ministry’s PRASAD scheme, aiming to ensure better accessibility for all visitors.
 

8. Why is the removal of barriers in Srimandir significant?

The changes not only benefit thousands of devotees who previously couldn't fully access the deities but also set an example for other ancient shrines across India. It embodies the inclusivity, which is central to Jagannath culture.
 

9. Who supported providing access to PwDs in the Jagannath Temple?

The Mukti Mandap, the highest seat of scholars of the Jagannath Temple, supported the cause of providing full access to differently-abled devotees


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