The Bengal government told Calcutta High Court on Friday that it wanted Durga Puja to be celebrated by adhering to all Covid norms like in 2020.
The court accepted the submission and disposed of a public interest litigation that sought fresh directives to restrict gathering.
Chief Justice (acting) Rajesh Bindal and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj said in their brief order: “In view of the aforesaid fair stand taken by the learned advocate-general, the present petition and the connected application are disposed of in terms of the aforesaid orders.”
The state’s submission means pandals will remain no-entry zones for all except a handful of Puja organisers.
What the court had ordered last year and will be implemented this year, too:
⚫ No visitor will be allowed inside a pandal
⚫ Areas within 10m of a big pandal and 5m of a small pandal to be barricaded and demarcated as a no-entry zone
⚫ Only 25 people — members of the respective puja committees — will be allowed inside big pandals. Only 15 such people will be allowed in smaller pandals
⚫ The list of the members who are allowed to enter a pandal has to be displayed outside
⚫ All pujas mentioned in the Kolkata police’s Puja manual are to be considered big puja
Addressing the organisers at a meeting on September 7, chief minister Mamata Banerjee had said: “We request all Durga Puja organisers to follow Covid rules exactly like they did last year.”
In addition to the court-ordered norms, the state government had imposed several other restrictions last year.
The government had asked the organisers to make spacious and open pandals.
“If the ceiling is blocked, keep the sides open and vice-versa. There should be enough space for physical distancing,” said a government official at Nabanna.
Puja committees had been advised to keep the inauguration low-key and opt for online inauguration, if possible.
The Vijaya Dashami ritual was not allowed to prevent possible spread of infection.
The government had announced that people who would offer pushpanjali should bring flowers to avoid chances of infection by sharing flowers. Too much crowding during pushpanjali was not allowed and staggered timings were followed to reduce crowding.
The organisers were asked to avoid holding cultural events outside pandals or along roads to prevent gathering.
Immersion processions were not allowed. The organisers had to declare the date, time and place of immersion along with the number of vehicles and people who would accompany the idols.
The organisers had to distribute masks and keep hand sanitisers near pandals.
There was no bar last year. This time, the government has withdrawn the night curfew restrictions from October 10 to 20, a period that coincides with the Puja. People can visit pandals but only from a distance.
The suspension of the night curfew will also mean that the puja crowd will be spaced out across the day and night.