Sisodia writes to Union health minister, seeks protocols for Chhath celebrations
Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on Tuesday wrote to Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya, urging the central government to draft protocols and issue necessary directions regarding the celebration of Chhath Puja this year in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Chhath Puja is a popular cultural event in north India, especially among people who are from states in eastern India. A large number of people have been waiting to celebrate Chhath Puja with their families this year. And, as you know, the entire nation has been fighting against Covid-19 for the past 18 months. Last year too, the Union government had drafted protocols and issued directions for Chhath Puja celebrations across the country. I request the Central government to consult health experts on the present situation in the light of the pandemic to draft protocols and issue directions for Chhath celebrations this year too, so that people can celebrate the festival taking all necessary precautions,” said Sisodia in his letter to Mandaviya, a copy of which HT has seen.
A senior DDMA official said that if the Union government issues specific protocols and directions, the DDMA, in its first meeting after Dussehra, may reconsider issuing fresh directions regarding Chhath Puja celebrations in the national capital.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been protesting against the Delhi government, claiming that Chhath Puja was singled out even as other festivals and most other activities were allowed in the Capital.
To be sure, the decision to ban Chhath Puja celebrations was taken by Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), and not the Delhi government. Lieutenant governor Anil Baijal is the chairperson of DDMA which also has chief minister Arvind Kejriwal as its vice-chairperson.
Under an order issued on September 30, DDMA prohibited celebration of Chhath Puja at public spaces in the city even as it allowed other celebration like Ramlila, Durga Puja and Dussehra.
Last week, Kejriwal said that the decision has been taken for the welfare and safety of the people, and slammed the BJP for doing “dirty politics”. “I have said this earlier also that we want people to celebrate all the festivals. But in Chhath puja, people have to step into the water. If even one Covid infected person enters the water, then the entire water will get infected. It can result in fast spread of the infection. Due to this reason, we have taken this step. I’m sure people will understand this. They will also understand that the opposition is doing dirty politics,” Kejriwal had said.
Chhath Puja will be celebrated on November 10 this year.
Union health ministry officials did not respond to requests seeking comment.