The Calcutta High Court order making Durga Puja pandals “no entry zones”, and the awareness generated by the administration in asking people to stay indoors to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, seemed to have worked as there were fewer people on the streets in Kolkata during the peak of Durga Puja festivities
On October 23, when the State celebrated Saptami, the Kolkata Metro, which is considered the lifeline of transport in the city, ferried about 34,000 passengers. On a usual weekday before the Puja, the North South line of Kolkata Metro typically ferries more than twice the number of passengers. For instance, on October 21, 84,801 commuters had availed the services of the Kolkata Metro.
On Saturday, October 24, the day when Astami is observed till 7 p.m. in the evening, only 24,300 passengers took the metro ride.
Kolkata Metro officials said that there was hardly any crowd in the trains and on the platforms today. Unlike previous years, the Kolkata Metro has decided not to run special overnight trains to manage the Durga Puja crowd. The last trains are leaving the terminal station at 9 p.m.
Also read: No visitors allowed inside Durga Puja pandals across West Bengal: Calcutta High Court
Meanwhile, a few incidents have come to the fore in the past few days, when the Kolkata Police had to asked Durga Puja pandals not to allow visitors in the pandals. From north Kolkata to south Kolkata, Puja pandals did not have much by of crowds. While people did descend on the streets in some areas, crowding in the Durga Puja pandals was largely avoided. In districts and towns of the State, the situation was the same and not much crowding was observed inside pandals.
There are a number of other factors that led to fewer crowds this Durga Puja, officials said. While people have become aware that crowding could lead to a spike in infections, suburban and local trains are also not plying, which makes it difficult for people from the districts to soak in the festivities in the city.
Meanwhile, the rituals related to Durga Puja like Anjali (offering of flowers) and Kumari Puja, were observed across all community Durga Pujas in the State. There are about 37,000 community Durga Pujas in the State, of which 3,000 are organised in Kolkata.
59 deaths in Bengal
West Bengal on Saturday added 4,148 new COVID-19 infections, taking the total infections in the State to 3,45,574. Fifty-nine people succumbed to the viral infections, taking the COVID-19 toll in the State to 6,427. The active cases in the State increased to 36,807, while the discharge rate marginally declined to 87.49%. Of the 59 deaths, Kolkata recorded 19 deaths, taking the COVID-19 toll in the city to 2,097. North 24 Parganas recorded 14 deaths, taking the toll in the district to 1,464. Kolkata added 895 new COVID-19, while the number of COVID-19 infections in North 24 Parganas was 896.