Gangasagar Mela starts today, lakhs of pilgrims head to Bengal as HC gives nod

  • The Calcutta high court has laid down a host of measures for the state government to adopt in order to contain Covid-19, which has been witnessing a major spike in West Bengal as well as the country over the past weeks.
During Gangasagar Mela, on the occasion of Makar Sankranti, thousands of pilgrims, seers and tourists take a holy dip in the confluence of Ganga and Bay of Bengal, and offer prayers at the Kapil Muni Temple. (Dibyangshu Sarkar / AFP Photo)
During Gangasagar Mela, on the occasion of Makar Sankranti, thousands of pilgrims, seers and tourists take a holy dip in the confluence of Ganga and Bay of Bengal, and offer prayers at the Kapil Muni Temple. (Dibyangshu Sarkar / AFP Photo)
Updated on Jan 08, 2022 06:46 AM IST
Copy Link
Written by Sharangee Dutta | Edited by Amit Chaturvedi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The Gangasagar Mela, which occurs at West Bengal's Gangasagar (also known as Sagar) Island during Makar Sankranti every year, starts today and will continue till January 16. There was a major cry regarding its cancellation owing to the ongoing coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic and the recent surge in cases across the country amid Omicron variant outbreak. However, the Calcutta high court on Friday gave a go-ahead to the Trinamool Congress-led state government to conduct the event after taking necessary measures to check Covid-19.

On Makar Sankranti, thousands of pilgrims, seers and tourists are expected to take a holy dip in the confluence of Ganga and Bay of Bengal, and offer prayers at the Kapil Muni Temple.

The court showed concerns regarding the virus spreading due to oral and nasal droplets transmitting through river water after the pilgrims take dips in the confluence. Advocate General SN Mukherjee, representing West Bengal government, however, reportedly informed that residents of Sagar Island have been inoculated with both jabs of Covid-19 vaccine and the test-positivity rate in Diamond Harbour was under control.

The state further stated that it wasn't expecting the headcounts at the annual pilgrimage this year to exceed 5 lakh, while adding that nearly 30,000 seers have already visited the fair (mela) and around 50,000 people, including more seers, have reached the event ground from various locations of the country.

High court's instructions to contain Covid-19 at Gangasagar Mela 2022:

The court directed the state government to constitute a three-member panel comprising the leader of opposition at the state assembly, chairman of West Bengal Human Rights Commission, and representative of the state, to ensure compliance of Covid-19 measures in the Sagar Island.

Should there be any laxity in compliance, the committee has been asked to make recommendations to the state government without any delay to prohibit entry in the island, on which the competent state authority will take immediate action. The court also stated that the secretary of West Bengal Human Rights Commission will coordinate with the committee members on the matter.

The high court has instructed the state to ensure that all persons and pilgrims at the Gangasagar Mela ground mandatorily wear masks, adhere to social distancing norms and use sanitisers. The same protocols are applicable for individuals associated with the control and management of the event such as police personnel, medical personnel, volunteers and government officials.

As many as five RT-PCR testing facilities along with some rapid antigen testing centres must be set up at all entry points, including Howrah and Sealdah railway stations.

Concerns from doctors:

Despite the green signal from the high court, the Doctors' Forum is sceptical on how the Covid-19 measures suggested by the former will be conducted by the state government. It also stated that the affidavit filed by the state on January 6 to the high court is a mere eyewash to go ahead with the mela.

The forum has claimed that the medical facilities made available in the mela premises are not adequate to cater to lakhs of pilgrims.

Covid-19 situation in West Bengal

As many as 18,213 new Covid-19 cases were reported in West Bengal on Friday, up from 15,421 the day before. There are 51,384 active cases in the state with the case positivity rate as high as 26.34%. The number of people hospitalised in the state due to the virus also saw a rise to 2,444 on Friday from Thursday's 2,228, according to the state Covid-19 bulletin data.

South 24 Parganas where the Sagar Island is situated logged a total of 704 new Covid-19 cases on Friday of the overall 18,213 infections. It is one of the most affected districts in the state apart from Kolkata, North 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly and Paschim Bardhaman.

(With inputs from ANI)

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Ludhiana’s Tibba police busted a honey-trap racket and arrested four persons, including two women, on Saturday. (Image for representational purpose)

    Ludhiana: Honey-trap gang busted, two women among four held

    Tibba police busted a honey-trap racket and arrested four persons, including two women, on Saturday. One of the members of the gang has yet to be caught, the police said. The FIR against them has been registered on the complaint of Nagendra Yadav of New Vijay Nagar. A fabric manufacturer, Yadav, told the police that he runs a factory near Puneet Nagar. On Friday evening, he was going to his factory on a scooter.

  • Two women caught amid strong winds witnessed in Ludhiana on Saturday. (HT Photo)

    Ludhiana witnesses a pleasant turn of weather

    Bringing relief from the scorching heat, the thunderstorm witnessed in the city on Saturday evening turned the weather pleasant. Partly cloudy weather prevailed in the city since morning and rains, along with strong winds, brought down the mercury levels in the evening. As per the meteorological department, Chandigarh, the maximum temperature in the city was recorded at 40 degrees Celsius while the minimum was 27 degrees.

  • Division number 8 police have booked an employee of a jewellery shop for allegedly stealing items worth lakhs on Friday. (Image for representational purpose)

    Ludhiana: Jewellery shop employee booked for theft

    Division number 8 police have booked an employee of a jewellery shop for allegedly stealing items worth lakhs on Friday. Akash has been identified as Akash of Chaura Bazaar. The FIR has been registered following the statement of Lalit Chopra of Rishi Nagar. The complainant said that on Friday, they were present in the store and were attending to customers.

  • The joint co-coordinator of Kisan Congress, a wing of All India Congress Committee, has been booked for hurting religious sentiments by cleaning a statue of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi installed in a park in Salem Tabri with his turban. (Image for representational purpose)

    Congress leader booked for cleaning statue of Rajiv Gandhi with his turban

    The joint co-coordinator of Kisan Congress, a wing of All India Congress Committee, has been booked for hurting religious sentiments by cleaning a statue of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi installed in a park in Salem Tabri with Gursimran Singh Mand's turban. The action against Gursimran Singh Mand has been taken around 10 months after the incident. Mand had reached the spot and cleaned the statue with his turban, which sparked a row.

  • Sub-inspector Jatinder Singh, incharge of Ludhiana’s cybercrime wing, said the police have alerted people about the frauds and asked them to report such matters immediately (Image for representational purpose)

    Ludhiana: Police issue advisory against fraudsters posing as officials

    The cybercrime wing of Punjab Police has issued an advisory to mobile phone users to be cautious of fraudsters who have found new ways to trap and dupe people. These fraudsters pose as officers and dupe people by sending them suspicious links on WhatsApp. Three such cases have been reported in Ludhiana in the past 45 days wherein fraudsters duped people by impersonating officials. The police have solved only one case till now.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Sunday, May 29, 2022