Kolkata Durga Puja pandals put up barricades to ban entry of visitors
Several Durga Puja committees in Kolkata on Tuesday have started putting up barricades to ban the entry of revellers to pandals a day after the Calcutta high court’s (HC) order, while a few others said that they had done it even before the legal directive was issued.
On Monday, the HC while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) had banned the entry of revellers inside pandals and declared them as “no entry zones”.
The move aims to prevent overcrowding and curb the spread of the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
The HC order has come as a setback for many community puja organisers and revellers, who were all set for pandal hopping while braving the contagion.
“We have banned revellers’ entry to our pandal. Only local residents will be allowed in a bid to restrict overcrowding. We will follow the HC order and only a few club members will be allowed,” said Sahal Ghosh, secretary, Santosh Mitra Square, one of the prominent community pujas in central Kolkata and a major crowd-puller.
Debdaru Fatak puja, another attraction in the western parts of the city, has also put up barricades to ban the entry of revellers. The organisers have put up a giant screen at a distance from where pandal hoppers can take a look at the idol, the pandal and the decorations.
“Local residents organise this puja. They will only be allowed to enter the pandal this year because of the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic,” said Gautam Halder, one of the puja organisers.
The HC on Monday directed the authorities to put up barricades outside pandals.
Barricades must be installed 10 metres away from the outer end of the pandal for large community pujas. The corresponding rule is five metres for smaller pujas.
Kolkata Police personnel and some puja committee members were seen measuring the distance of barricades late at night on Monday.
“We have coordinated with the Anandapur police station authorities and have put up barricades to bar the entry of visitors. On Tuesday, we will put out a list of 15 organisers, who will be allowed to enter the pandal during puja days,” said Pradip Biswas, one of the members of a small local community puja in eastern Kolkata along the Eastern Metropolitan (EM) Bypass.
The HC has directed 25 and 15 community puja members be allowed entry to larger and smaller pandals, respectively.
The names of the entrants will have to be decided in advance and cannot be changed daily. The puja organisers have been directed to display the list of entrants.
“We have put up barricades at a distance from the pandal. Also, rings have been drawn on the ground in a bid to maintain adequate social distancing norms,” said Banibrata Banerjee, a member of FD Block puja committee in Salt Lake.
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