Court firm on ‘no entry’ to Bengal’s puja pandals, eases limit for organisers – Hindustan Times

Kolkata News

The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday modified its order that declared all Durga Puja pandals as no entry zones and increased the number of people who are allowed inside the pandal at a time.

The court has raised the cap on the number of puja committee members who can enter the pandal and also allowed dhakis (drummers) to enter the premises. More members, including local residents, can now enter the pandals to take part in the puja and the rituals. Earlier, the court had permitted the entry of 15-25 committee members and has now set the limit at 45 members for big puja pandals at a time. The committees are required to prepare a list of 60 names in advance.

The names can be changed every day, court said and added that in case of small pujas the list would contain only 15 names and not more than 10 members would be allowed to enter at a time. The list can change every day and has to be prepared by 8 am.

The ruling comes following a review petition filed by prominent puja organisers in Kolkata on Tuesday that cited “practical problems” in executing the court’s order.

“The applicants state that this court may appreciate that the directions as given in the order dated October 19, may not be workable in view of the variable in-situ issues which the individual organisers are required to address whole holding the Durga Puja in the locality,” the petition stated, adding that Kolkata’s Durga Puja has been nominated for UNESCO’s 2020 list.

“There are some practical problems as nearly 80% of the pujas in Kolkata are held in lanes which are not more than 18 – 24 feet wide. If they put up barricades, there would be no space left for visitors to pass through and people will virtually have to go back without seeing the puja,” Saswata Basu, general secretary of the Forum for Durgotsab, had said.

The court had on Monday banned the entry of visitors inside the pandals virtually declaring them as ‘no entry zones’ to prevent any gatherings that may lead to a surge in cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), as doctors have warned. Though Durga Puja begins on Thursday, pandal hopping has already started in the state.

Monday’s ruling was welcomed by doctors. They described it as “historic” said that if clubs and puja committees adhere to the directive the Covid-19 transmission would definitely be restricted to a certain level.