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Thousands of Chhath Devotees Flout NGT Order 2nd Time in 12 Hrs, Barge into Kolkata's Rabindra Sarobar Lake

In a rerun of Saturday developments, the devotees broke open the locks of the gates leading to the lake and trooped into the waterbody from 4 AM to 7 AM to pay obeisance to the rising sun at the National Lake.

PTI

Updated:November 3, 2019, 6:09 PM IST
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Thousands of Chhath Devotees Flout NGT Order 2nd Time in 12 Hrs, Barge into Kolkata's Rabindra Sarobar Lake
Chhath devotees perfoming rituals at Kolkata's Rabindra Sarobar lake after flouting NGT rules.

Kolkata: For the second time in 12 hours, several thousand devotees forced themselves into the Rabindra Sarobar in south Kolkata on early Sunday to perform Chhat Puja rituals, flouting directives of the National Green Tribunal, an official of Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) said.

A case has been filed against unnamed persons at Lake Police Station and the KMDA will send a detailed report to the West Bengal government, he said.

In a rerun of Saturday developments, the devotees broke open the locks of the gates leading to the lake and trooped into the waterbody from 4 AM to 7 AM to pay obeisance to the rising sun at the National Lake, the official said.

"Our security guards were outnumbered. With not much police personnel around, the guards had to allow the devotees to get in. They offered pujas and our conservancy staff has started clearing flowers, leaves and other left-over from the water and the ecologically sensitive zone. It will be over in two-three days," the official said.

The NGT, in a directive to the West Bengal government on October 14, had asked it to ensure that there is no violation of an earlier tribunal order, which banned any kind of ritual for Chhath Puja or other festivals in the waters of the Rabindra Sarobar.

No fairs, open air festivals with bright light and sound take place in the lake area since 2017, the official said.

Spread over 192 acres, Rabindra Sarobar boasts of rich biodiversity.

Asked about Chhat Puja revellers flouting the NGT order at Rabindra Sarobar lake, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar said at the sidelines of an event here, the order has to be implemented and complied with.

Environmentalist Subhas Dutta said, he has got at least 100 picures of people moving inside the lake premises on Saturday and Sunday, offering puja at the waterbody despite the area being declared a prohibited zone for such festivities.

"I feel sad. It will take lots of time to undo the damage caused to ecology and bio-diversity in the lake area. But I am hopeful, we will win the battle to save the environment at Rabindra Sarobar one day," Dutta said.

Another environmentalist Somendra Nath Ghosh said, materials used in puja like vermilion and oil, besides fruits were strewn all over the place.

"While the KMDA stopped entry of morning walkers since Friday midnight, they did little to prevent thousands of Chhat revellers from entering the premises. Some of them danced to the tunes of DJ music, drums and even burst firecrackers and threw chocolate bombs on water," Ghosh said.

Thespian Soumitra Chatterjee said, there should be awareness among those violating a court order in the name of festivities.

The administration must have taken full-proof measures to prevent such an incident, Chatterjee said.

Around 100 police personnel were deployed outside the gates of Rabindra Sarobar since Saturday afternoon, the KMDA official said.

The KMDA had earlier declared all the 15 gates of the Rabindra Sarobar would be locked on November 2 midnight and till 11 am the following day and there would be 15 waterbodies, natural and artificial, kept ready for Chhat revellers.

"Hundreds turned up in alternative places like the waterbody in Patuli, Panditia Road and Anandapur on Saturday afternoon and early Sunday but none turned up in other earmarked places," the official said.

Sabita Rani, a woman offering Chhat puja at the lake, asked, "Why should we go elsewhere? Shall we stop offering Chhat Puja?

"We are not ready to go to any alternative location," she said.

A large number of devotees had poured in on the green zone on Saturday by breaking open locks of the gates leading to the lake to perform Chhath Puja rituals.

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