In light of the risk of a third wave of the COVID-19 epidemic, the Calcutta High Court put a series of limitations on the upcoming Kali Puja, Jagadhatri Puja, and Kartick Puja celebrations on Wednesday.
A Division Bench of Justices Rajasekhar Mantha and Kesang Doma Bhutia issued the following order: “This Court is also aware that because Covid positivity in the State is less than 5%, the State and Central Government’s restrictions imposed under the Disaster Management Act and other related statutes are inapplicable.
However, the possibility of a pandemic relapse and/or a third wave cannot be ruled out and looms large.”
In this case, the petitioner sought to enforce instructions issued by the Court on October 7, 2021, and November 5, 2020, which imposed restrictions on holiday celebrations.
He told the court that he was concerned about crowding during the festivals in question and that if the dilution contained in the October 7 ruling was allowed, the pandemic could resurface in the shape of a third wave. As a result, he petitioned the Court to have the November 2020 ruling executed without modification.
The State has no objections to the directions issued in the two orders, according to Advocate General SN Mookherjee.
The Court agreed with the counsel’s arguments and noted that, as a result of the lengthy lockdown, people have stepped out socially “with vengeance.”
“As a result, massive crowds have gathered in some places and popular pandals, despite the fact that they were outside the puja’s access points. In fact, one of these Pujas had to be stopped down, and the ornate pandal in question had to be removed “as indicated in the order
It went on to say that residents must guarantee that there is no overcrowding at any location, and that people should take steps to avoid and prevent congestion on their own.
Following the Court’s remarks, it adjusted the restrictions in its prior decisions and issued the following directives:
1. No-entry zones shall be maintained in all pandals. Only dhakis will be allowed to enter the area beyond the pandals and within the five-meter zone after that.
2. Only 10 people are allowed in the smaller pandals, where the covered space (minus the dais) is up to 150 square metres at any given moment. The maximum number of people in a pandal with a covered space between 150 and 300 square metres (excluding the dais) at any given moment is 15. A maximum of 45 people can be in the pandals at any given time if they are more than 300 square metres in size (without the dais).
3. Sanitizers, masks, and the social distance rule must all be adhered to at all times, both within and outside the pandals.
4. Immersions should be kept low-key, with no processions allowed. At the moment of immersion, the usage of bands and lights is prohibited. To avoid overcrowding at ghats, local police can arrange for staggered periods.
5. Double-vaccinated/masked guests are allowed entry. All activities and puja ceremonies like Anjali, Arati, Sindur Khela, and others are permitted inside the pandal, subject to the covid limits. The Puja organisers will check for compliance with this admittance criterion at the entrance. The police will conduct on-the-spot verification. The police may cancel the puja if it is not performed correctly.
6. The phrase “such entry must be permitted if each guest is doubly vaccinated and wears a mask” should not be interpreted as a blanket permission for everyone to throng and overcrowd the puja pandal areas in particular and the street in general.”
The Court further stated that when Chhat Puja reopens on November 8, 2021, it will examine distinct directions.