Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) has asked the organisers of Durga Puja at Mohammad Ali Park to put on hold the construction of their puja pandal, a senior official of the civic body said on Wednesday.
The official said the civic authorities feared that the pandal, which is being constructed inside the Chittaranjan Avenue park, could put pressure on an already damaged underground reservoir and lead to an accident.
“The KMC will inspect the park and decide whether the pandal can be allowed at the site where the organisers are erecting it,” said the official who refused to be named.
The puja was shifted out of the park in 2019 after engineers came to the conclusion following an inspection that the reservoir under the park was in a poor condition. The inspection found cracks in the reservoir’s brick structure.
Had the reservoir collapsed, the ground could cave in, the engineers had warned.
The reservoir has not been repaired yet. In 2019 and 2020, the puja was held at the fire station adjacent to the park.
Last year, the KMC allowed the puja to be held on the stairs leading to the park and a small part of the ground adjoining the stairs.
The Telegraph had on August 11 reported that the organisers had started erecting the pandal in the park.
A senior official of the KMC then said they had asked the organisers to erect the pandal on the flight of stairs and a small portion of the ground next to the steps.
The pandal, however, was being built entirely inside the park. No portion of the pandal is on the stairs.
“We have asked the organisers to keep the construction of the pandal on hold. The KMC did not give the organisers any permission for erecting the pandal inside the park. We are writing to the puja committee,” said a senior official.
The organisers had earlier said the pandal was being built on a portion of the park that did not have any reservoir under it.
“Even if there is no reservoir under the portion where the pandal is being erected, it would still be a dangerous thing to do. If more cracks develop in the reservoir and the portion of the ground above it collapses, it can lead to a cave-in in the adjacent portions, too,” the official said.
Surendra Sharma, general secretary of the puja committee, said on Wednesday that in a meeting with the organisers, KMC officials asked them to construct a light pandal that would not put much pressure on the ground. “The officials did not say clearly that we have to put the pandal construction on hold,” he said.
Rehana Khatoon, councillor of Ward 44, which includes Mohammad Ali Park, said the plan was to not allow any pandal-hopper to go beyond the flight of stairs leading to the ground. “No one will be allowed to enter the ground,” she said.