A day before the popular Durga Pujo in West Bengal, the Calcutta High Court on Wednesday eased its order which declared Durga Puja pandals 'no-entry zones' amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. The court in its order directed that not more than 45 people are allowed inside bigger pandals, while for smaller pandals, the number of maximum persons allowed up to 15.
"For the larger pujas ( Pandals must be more than 300 sq mts) a maximum number of the person to be included in the prior list is 60. But not more than 45 to be present at any point of time, " the court said.
Around 400 top Durga Puja organisers had filed a review petition following which the organisers had approached the court as part of the Durgotsav Forum, an umbrella body of Durga Puja organisers.
The court in its order said that Dhakis, or traditional drummers, are allowed to be present just inside the 'no Entry zone' in each pandal in a limited number. List of persons allowed should be fixed on a day to day basis. These lists will be put outside the pandals every day at 8 am. However, the court has denied permissions for Anjali or Sindur Khela, refusing to pass any orders on appeals by Kalyan Banerjee, who appeared for the organisers.
Earlier on Monday, the Calcutta High Court had declared all pandals across West Bengal no-entry zones to prevent the surge of COVID-19 cases in the state. The court had said that no visitors will be allowed to enter the marquees.
There should be 'no-entry' boards on the barricades, it had said. The court had also ordered that only 15 to 25 persons belonging to the organising committees will be allowed to enter the pandals.
The high court order had come amid red flags raised by medical experts and epidemiologists about a possible exponential spread of the pandemic in West Bengal after the reckless celebration of Durga Puja, the state's biggest festival, as was witnessed in Kerala after Onam.
The court had passed the order on a PIL filed by a man named Sourav Chatterjee.