Durga Puja pandals in West Bengal to remain out of bounds to visitors

Durga Puja pandals in West Bengal will remain out of bounds to visitors for a second year in a row due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

 

The State government on Friday informed the Calcutta High Court that restrictions imposed by the court last year would be enforced this year too.

The court had in 2020 directed that all Durga Puja pandals be treated as “no entry zones” for visitors, allowing entry to only a specific number of organisers, depending on the size of the pandals, to participate in the rituals.

“The learned Advocate General submitted that he has sought instruction from the competent authority to state that even for this year the guidelines issued by this court in the aforesaid orders dated October 19, 2020 and October 21, 2020 passed in WPA 8520 of 2020 shall be followed by the authorities concerned,” the order by a Bench of Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj said.

The Bench disposed of a public interest litigation on the issue that no large gatherings be allowed during the Durga Puja on the assurance of the Advocate General.

The five-day festival will be observed in the third week of October. There are nearly 36,000 community Durga Pujas in West Bengal, including around 2,500 in Kolkata. As in the previous year, the State government has announced a grant of ₹50,000 to each of them.

The government on September 30 extended the COVID-19 restrictions till October 30, but announced relaxations in the night curfew in view of the festive season. “In view of the festive period, the West Bengal government on Thursday decided to relax restrictions on movement of people and vehicles between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. from October 10 to October 20,” a government notification read.

West Bengal on Friday registered 708 new cases of COVID-19 infections and 13 deaths.

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