To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Calcutta high court on Monday ordered that all Durga Pooja pandals across the state be declared no-entry zones and only 15 to 25 persons belonging to the organising committees will be allowed to enter the pandals.
On hearing the Public Interest Litigation filed by Ajay Kumar, Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Arijit Banerjee said that no visitors will be allowed to enter the pandals for Durga Pooja.
Several Pooja committees were announced that, they were closing off pandals, or building much more open structures that allow for easier circulation of air. Pandal footfall, in Kolkata and other cities and towns go into lakhs during festival.
Several marketplaces across the state saw crowds that wildly overshoot permissible limits considering the risk of COVID-19, on October 18 which was the weekend before festivities. The court ordered small pandals barricades will have to be put up five to 10 metres from the entrance, while for the bigger ones; the distance has to be 10 metres. Also there should be no entry boards on the barricades.
According to the report by Anandabazar Patrika, Court ordered Kolkata Police Commission and West Bengal DGP to submit affidavits to the court by November 5 on how these orders were followed.
All Durga Pooja committees across the state have been asked to submit a blueprint for crowd management, reported Indian Express. Court had directed that community Durga Pooja organisers in the state to spend 75% of the Rs 50,000 grant given by the West Bengal government on the procurement of COVID-19 protection equipment and the rest on strengthening public-police bonding.
The Bench of Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Arijit Banerjee directed that the money given by the state to the Durga Pooja committees cannot be used for any other purpose, and purchase bills have to be submitted to the authorities for the audit. On September 24, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had announced Rs 50,000 grant for each of the 36,946 Durga Pooja committees in the state.