These Pujas have been around longer than Independent India. But before being a stopover on the five-day pandal-hopping route, these pujas play traffic-stopper for weeks. If for residents venturing out becomes an obstacle race, for commuters it means yet another road to avoid.
On Friday, Calcutta High Court provided a glimmer of hope for victims of pandal raj. Terming it 'a problem of thousands of people', acting Chief Justice A.N. Roy urged citizens to file a PIL to enable the court to lay down guidelines for Pujas 2005 to curb encroachment and ensure free passage.
Metro visited six road-block pandals on Sunday, wondering what could happen to them in '05 (pictures on right by Amit Datta and Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya). The official word from Singhi Park Sarbojanin Durga Puja (a complaint against which had triggered the high court observation) was: 'We used to hold the Puja on Singhi park. After a Central government housing complex came up, we shifted to the road in 1972. There are three parallel lanes for traffic diversion.'
At the Ekdalia Evergreen Sarbojanin Durgotsab club room, puja committee president and mayor-in-council member Rajib Deb said: 'We are holding the Puja on the street since inception and we leave one lane free for traffic. Local residents do not have a problem.'