What impact will Calcutta HC's order to ban Puja Pandals for visitors in Bengal have?
Kolkata, Oct 20: Amid fears of over crowding, the Calcutta High Court on Monday declared that Durga Puja pandals in West Bengal will be 'no-entry for visitors', and only in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The order is applicable to over 34,000 Durga Puja committees across the state, including over 3,000 in Kolkata.
What did the Calcutta High Court say on Durga Puja?
In a big damper on Durga Puja revelery, the high court declared all pandals across West Bengal no-entry zones to prevent the surge of COVID-19 cases in the state.
A division bench of the high court comprising justices Sanjib Banerjee and Arijit Banerjee, while 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.
Why is the Calcutta HC order significant?
The HC order comes rising Covid-19 cases and deaths across the state. Record 3,992 new COVID-19 cases were detected in West Bengal on Monday, taking the state''s tally to 3,25,028.
Authorities were alarmed with the overcrowding of people in markets and shopping malls ahead of the festival. People were seen without face masks, flouting social distancing norms, and jostling with each other as they shopped at the last minute.
What are the effects?
The order comes a big blow to small businesses, like food stalls, who are already hit by huge loss due to coronavirus lockdown. All the puja committees will incur losses to the tune of hundreds of crores of rupees as all preparations have been made.
Subir Das of the 75 Pally Puja Committee in south Kolkata's Bhawanipore said the court order caught the organisers off guard as almost all preparations have been made.
"As law-abiding citizens we must ensure the court order is complied with. However, the order caught us off guard. Even the pandals have been inaugurated. We don't know whether we will be able to recover the huge expenses," he said.
"We hope the state government will issue fresh guidelines in the wake of the order," Das said.