Durga Puja 2020: Pandals declared no-entry zones for visitors, only organisers allowed
Kolkata, Oct 19: The Calcutta High Court ruled on Monday that all the Durga Puja pandals in West Bengal will be no-entry zone for visitors and only organisers will allow to enter the pandals amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
A division bench of the high court comprising Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Arijit Banerjee, hearing a public interest litigation, said that no visitors will be allowed to enter the marquees.
For small pandals, barricades will have to be put up five metres from the entrance, while for the bigger ones, the distance has to be 10 metres, the court ordered.
There should be no-entry boards on the barricades, it said.
The court also ordered that only 15 to 25 persons belonging to the organising committees will be allowed to enter the pandals.
As fear of surge in COVID-19 numbers grows amid preparations for Durga puja, several pandal committees have made arrangements for virtual ''darshan'' this time, while barring the physical entry of visitors.
There are, however, other puja associations that have argued that the festival is all about inclusiveness, and revellers cannot be stopped from visiting the marquees. They have given assurances that all necessary measures would be taken to manage crowds and ensure safety of one and all.
At least two big-ticket pujas in the city Santosh Mitra Square and Debdaru Fatak have announced that outsiders won't be allowed this time, but insisted that people log on to their YouTube channels to catch a glimpse of the Durga idol, and the rituals.
Night-long pandal-hopping is set to begin in the city and elsewhere in the state from Monday, with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee recently announcing that people can start visiting marquees from ''Tritiya'' - three days before the puja rituals begin -- to avoid crowding to an extent.