Kolkata:Calcutta High Court admitted a public interest litigation seeking an order to stop the Durga Puja, the biggest Hindu festival in West Bengal, in view of the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic.
The matter was posted for further hearing in the coming Friday.The two-judge bench of Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Arijit Banerjee, taking up the matter today, questioned the advocate general Kishore Dutta," Why has the state government allowed the puja committees to go ahead with organising the celebration when schools and colleges in the state are closed in view of the pandemic?"
The bench was also critical of the state government announcement of giving a grant of Rs 50,000 to each of the Durga Puja committee." Do the state government offer financial grant to Eid and other religious festivals in the state," Justice Sanjib Banerjee asked.
According to the plea, the pandemic situation in the state is the same as it was after Onam in Kerala.The plea, filed by lawyer Sabyasachi Chatterjee, said that the Ganesh Puja and Muharram celebrations were not allowed in Maharashtra in view of the Covid-19 pandemic and the rising number of cases.
Earlier, Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had announced a slew of Covid-19-related guidelines for pandal organisations as well as for the people visiting the pandals.
Banerjee directed that pandals need to be open from all four sides, adding "Hand sanitizers should be placed at entry points of pandals, and the wearing of masks to be mandatory."
"Physical distancing protocols should be adhered to at all public places," she said adding, " However, this year no cultural programmes would be allowed at the pandals", CM said, "I am requesting all to keep Durga puja pandal open and spacious."
If sides are covered, then keep the roof open. If the roof is closed, then keep sides open. Also, maintain physical distancing, she said."People visiting the pandal must wear the mask. Keep more volunteers to ensure Covid protocols are being maintained," the chief minister said, adding that cultural programme won't be allowed at pandals.
Banerjee said, "Ask volunteers to wear face shields. For 'Anjali' and 'Sindoor Khela', there should be keep slots. Announce the mantras on the mic so that people can hear it from faraway places. For Sindoor Khela, play it batch-wise."
"People are doing politics regarding this. If I don't allow puja, they will say look they didn't allow puja to be celebrated," she said, "We will virtually show Durga puja and also announces prize on the virtual platform."
She said that public announcement systems must be put in place at every pandal. Regarding immersion of idols, she said, "give slots to puja pandals to avoid gathering. Single window permission for Durga puja will begin on October 2."(UNI)