KOLKATA: The state will start talking to Chhath devotees to encourage them to visit the ghats in their respective localities and spare Rabindra Sarobar and Subhas Sarobar. The decision was taken at a meeting between senior officials of Kolkata Metropolitan Develop Authority (KMDA) and Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) on Friday. KMDA is the custodian of both water bodies.
KMDA’s CEO Antara Acharya told TOI, “Today we had a meeting with KMC, and locally, devotees will be asked to perform puja at the nearby ghats. We are pro-actively preparing the infrastructure so that people don’t have to visit Rabindra Sarobar and Subhas Sarobar.”
Acharya added, “We have identified and set up 44 new ghats in 16 water bodies in different locations in south Kolkata, including in Nonadanga, Baishnabghata and Patuli, Jodhpur Park, Katju Nagar near Jadavpur, Golf Green, Bijoygarh, Taratala and Kasba. Concrete steps have been built at most of the ghats to help devotees go down to the water.”
Mani Prasad Singh, the president of Bihari Samaj that represents a section of Chhath devotees, said, “When the government authorities meet us, we will explain to them that Chhath will be observed following all Covid protocols and we have no intention of messing up Rabindra Sarobar or Subhas Sarobar, which are centrally located and convenient for the devotees.”
While hearing a case relating to the ban on firecrackers during Covid times, Calcutta High Court on Thursday observed that the state should consider keeping Chhath rituals away from Rabindra Sarobar and Subhas Sarobar.
Both lakes have been reopened for four hours from 5.30am and from 3pm to 6pm. Acharya said, “These two lakes have been reopened as per the gradual unlock norms and this has nothing to with Chhath. The matter of preventing Chhath rituals at the two lakes is pending in the Supreme Court and we shall abide by whatever it says.”
KMDA has filed a petition in the apex court requesting permission for Chhath Puja at Rabindra Sarobar, which includes a 73-acre water body. The hearing is due on November 16. KMDA had earlier moved the NGT seeking a relaxation on the ban on all pujas on the Sarobar premises. NGT refused to hear the plea to allow Chhath Puja when the matter came up for hearing on September 17.