Kolkata

Coronavirus | No visitors allowed inside Durga Puja pandals across West Bengal: Calcutta High Court

Labourers work to construct a pandal ahead of Durga Puja festival, in Kolkata, Monday, Oct. 19, 2020.   | Photo Credit: PTI

No visitors will be allowed inside Durga Puja pandals across West Bengal, and the Puja mandap will be treated as a “containment zone” this year, the Calcutta High Court said in an order on Monday.

A Division Bench of Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Arijit Banerjee said that only organisers of the Durga Puja committees can enter pandals in numbers ranging from 15 to 25. “No Entry” notices should be put up near the pandals this year, and an awareness drive should be taken up to inform people about the High Court’s order, the Bench said.

Hearing a public interest litigation on the issue of Durga Pujas being allowed in the State during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Court observed that the police does not have enough resources to control the crowd if people descend on the streets.

“The Calcutta High Court said that small Durga Puja pandals of five metres and large puja pandals of 10 metres should be declared a no-entry zone. The distance will have to be measured from the place where the boundary of Durga Puja pandal ends,” Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, advocate appearing for the petitioner, said.

Also read: Kolkata caught between festivities and fear of COVID-19

The Court also directed that the names of Durga Puja organisers allowed inside puja pandal be displayed outside the pandal, and this cannot be changed every day.

The Court also expressed disappointment that the State government had not come up with a plan to implement the guidelines issued earlier. The Court has asked the State government to submit a report on the matter on November 5.

The order assumes huge significance as there are about 37,000 Durga Pujas organised across the State despite warnings issued by doctors that crowding during the Durga Puja can worsen COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past few days, the State is recording a new spike in COVID-19 cases every day and more than 60 deaths.

Last week, the Calcutta High Court, in another significant order, had directed that the money allocated by the State government to Durga Puja can only be spent on distribution of masks, sanitisers and community policing, and not for organising the Durga Puja.

The State government has announced it would give a sum of ₹50,000 each to 37,000 community Durga Puja committees in the State.

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Printable version | Nov 26, 2020 1:22:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/coronavirus-no-visitors-allowed-inside-durga-puja-pandals-across-west-bengal-calcutta-high-court/article32892114.ece

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