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Durga Puja Organisers’ Body Files Review Petition in Calcutta HC Over 'No Entry Zones' in Pandals, Hearing Tomorrow

(For representation) A civic worker wearing a protective suit sanitizes a makeshift worship venue of goddess Durga in Kolkata, on October 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

(For representation) A civic worker wearing a protective suit sanitizes a makeshift worship venue of goddess Durga in Kolkata, on October 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

The ‘Forum for Durgotsab’ will file the review petition before the Division Bench of the High Court, comprising Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Arijit Banerjee.

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Sujit Nath

A day after Calcutta High Court ordered that the Durga puja pandals will be no-entry zones for visitors – the ‘Forum for Durgotsab’ (an umbrella body of all Durga Pujas in West Bengal) has filed a review petition in the matter. The body claims that it will be difficult to follow the norms ordered by the court.

The ‘Forum for Durgotsab’ has filed the review petition before the Division Bench of the High Court, comprising Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Arijit Banerjee and the hearing will be tomorrow (October 21).

“Yes, we have filed a review petition today at the Calcutta High Court. We felt that it would be difficult for us to follow the guidelines on setting up the barricades with 5 meters for small pandals and 10 meters for big pandals conditions,” Saswata Basu, General Secretary of the ‘Forum for Durgotsab’, said.

“There are puja pandals where space is less, while in some areas the lane is narrow. So, it will be extremely difficult to follow the norms. If we follow the 5 meters and 10 meters norms when it will be difficult for us to manage the crowd through the entry and exit points (located beyond the Court’s distance norms). Not the least. We have other concerns too and we hope that the Calcutta High Court will listen to our pleas,” he added.

This comes after the Calcutta High Court on Monday directed the puja organisers to barricade entrances of pandals. The High Court said that an area with a radius of 5 meters for small pandals and 10 meters for big pandals will be restricted for revellers.

The excerpts of the High Court’s order reads, “For the smaller pandals, a five-meter zone beyond the extremities of the pandals on all sides and, for the larger pandals, a 10-meter zone beyond the extremities of the pandal on all sides will be a part of the no-entry zone. In other words, the area covered by the pandals and the additional area around the pandals extending 5m from the smaller pandals and 10m from the bigger pandals will have to be barricaded as a no-entry zone.”

The Court, however, allowed only 25 person/puja committees inside the big pandals and 15 for the smaller ones in view of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Court’s direction came after it felt that (in view of public safety) there are not enough policemen in Kolkata to man crowds at the 3000-plus pandals in the city. In the last two days, a sea of people was seen on the streets which has raised serious questions about healthy safety as doctors/microbiologists fear about the possibility of mass spread of the virus.

On October 14, concerned over the possibility of a sudden increase in the number of Covid-19 cases after the Durga Puja celebration in the state - Advocate Sabyasachi Chatterjee has filed a petition at the Calcutta High Court requesting the judiciary to curb the celebrations.

When contacted by the petitioner, advocate Sabyasachi Chatterjee, he said, “I welcome the Court’s directive because staying healthy is also our right. I filed the petition concerning the large interest of the people. This virus is dangerous and there are high chances that the infection will increase rapidly after the Dura Puja celebration.”

Earlier, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had also laid out the plan for Durga Puja 2020 and issued guidelines from inauguration to immersion that the organisers and administration will strictly follow.


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