In what would disappoint the people of Bengal, the Calcutta High Court on Monday ordered that all Durga Puja pandals across the state be declared no-entry zones to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 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 pandals.
The high court said that only organisers can enter the pandals and a maximum of 25 people to be allowed. The name of the organisers will be displayed outside the pandal and the list can not be changed every day, the court said in its verdict.
What Calcutta High Court order said:
1. 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.
2. There should be no-entry boards on the barricades.
3. The court also ordered that only 15 to 25 persons belonging to the organising committees will be allowed to enter the pandals.
Last week, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee inaugurated Durga Puja in 69 places in the virtual mode and said though the festivities were not being held in many states the Trinamool Congress government did not stop it in Bengal considering the people's sentiments.
Mamata iterated her call to puja committees and to the people to celebrate the festival observing all COVID-19 regulations, including maintaining the required distance in the marquees.
"We will seek blessings from the goddess and worship her with all safety precautions ... People have been under lots of hardship and stress due to COVID-19 and lockdown. They are mentally under stress. Pray to Maa Durga to bring us out of the corona crisis," she had said.
(With PTI inputs)