Calcutta high court raises cap on number of people allowed inside a Durga Puja pandal
Earlier, the court had ordered that only 25 puja committee members could enter a big puja pandal.In its Wednesday’s order the court, however, has allowed up to 45 puja committee members to enter a big pandal at a timeUpdated: Oct 21, 2020, 13:23 IST
In a partial easing of restrictions, the Calcutta high court on Wednesday raised the cap on the number of puja committee members who can enter a Durga Puja pandal and allowed dhakis (drummers) to enter no-entry zones. A few local residents can now enter the pandals to take part in the puja and the rituals. However, the court refused to lift the ban on the entry of visitors inside puja pandals.
The court was hearing a review petition filed by Forum for Durgotsab, a platform representing over 350 puja committees in the city.
Earlier, the court had ordered that only 15 puja committee members could enter a small puja pandal, and 25 could enter a big puja pandal. The court had also said that the names of the entrants would have to be decided in advance and could not be changed daily.
In its Wednesday’s order the division bench of the high court, however, has allowed up to 45 puja committee members to enter a big pandal at a time. The committees would have to prepare a list of 60 names (including committee members and local residents) in advance. Modifying its earlier order, the court said that the names can be changed every day. In case of small puja pandals, the list would contain only 15 names (including committee members and local residents) and not more than 10 members would be allowed to enter at a time. The list can change every day and has to be prepared by 8am daily.
“There have been some modifications in the high court’s previous order, which comes as a breather. We are going through the details,” said a member of the Forum for Durgotsab, which filed the review petition on Tuesday.
The Calcutta high court on Monday had banned the entry of visitors inside the Durga Puja pandals. Authorities were directed to put up barricades outside pandals. The ban remains in effect.
Citing examples of Kerala wherein the number of Covid-19 cases had shot up after Onam, doctors had earlier warned the Mamata Banerjee administration that cases in Bengal could increase up to four-fold, if restrictions were relaxed during the festive season.
This comes at a time when Kolkata is witnessing a sharp spike in Covid-19 cases because of the festive season because people are thronging the markets for puja shopping and pandal-hoppers have hit the streets en masse.
While Kolkata reported 809 cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday, 4,029 new cases were registered across West Bengal. A month ago on September 20, Kolkata had reported 514 new cases and the state had registered 3,177 new cases. The positivity rate has jumped from 6.9% to 9.2% in the last month.