The laser light and sound show at the Sreebhumi Durga Puja pandal modelled on Dubai’s Burj Khalifa that went viral on the internet has been shut down on grounds of aviation safety and to prevent too many people from gathering.
According to an officer of the Bidhannagar Commissionerate, the pilots of at least three flights told air traffic controllers at Dum Dum airport that they were having trouble landing the aircraft because of the laser lights from the Burj Khalifa pandal.
Another officer said that the pilots of three other flights had notified the air traffic control of Kolkata airport that the lights were causing problems during landing and taking off.
The airport authorities notified the Bidhannagar Commissionerate asking them to ensure the laser lights were switched off at night at the Sreebhumi pandal.
Fire and emergency services minister Sujit Bose, who is one of the chief patrons of the puja, said they had decided to do away with the light and sound show but the pandal’s main lighting will be kept on.
“The lasers will be kept off. This will serve a dual purpose as our main concern is aviation safety and it will also prevent crowds from milling about to see the show,” Bose said.
Beams of light falling on aircraft can be blinding for pilots and induce serious mistakes, according to aviation experts.
Laser lights are a bigger problem when planes have to land on the southern end of the runway during winter, to avoid tailwinds from the north.
“To align an aircraft landing from the south with the runway, a pilot has to fly over Salt Lake, New Town and VIP Road. Powerful laser lights from the light and sound show were hampering the landing of aircraft,” said an officer of the Bidhannagar Commissionerate.
The 145-feet tall pandal at Sreebhumi has been built using 6,000-odd acrylic sheets to create a replica of the world’s tallest building — Burj Khalifa. The 5-minute show, with seven changes in colour to the beat of pulsating music, was causing the crowd flow to stagnate.
“This was leading to a massive spill-over on VIP Road till as far as Bangur Avenue. The police requested us to keep the show switched off when the crowd became too much. Since there has been no let-up in footfall, we have not been able to switch it on,” said Dibyendu Kishor Goswami, the chief co-ordinator of the puja.