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Court for e-bathing at Gangasagar Mela

Plea made in the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic
Preparation of Gangasagar transit camp underway in Calcutta on Wednesday.

Our Legal Correspondent   |   Calcutta   |   Published 09.01.21, 12:52 AM

Calcutta High Court on Friday asked the Bengal government to lay emphasis on “e-snan (virtual bathing)” to avoid mass bathing at Gangasagar Mela at Sagar Island this year.

A division bench of Chief Justice T.B.N. Radhakrishnan and Justice Arijit Banerjee in an interim order said: “State Government is directed to consider whether special incentives could be given to pilgrims, who would opt for e-snan.”

The bench passed its interim order in response to a public interest litigation filed by advocate Ajoy Das, who had pleaded that Sagar Island be declared a containment zone to prevent mass bathing during the Gangasagar Mela this year. The plea was made in the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Explaining the concept of e-snan, a state health department officer said: “The state government has decided to keep Sagar water in small containers for pilgrims at the Mela venue and will ask them to take bath with it instead of going to Gangasagar in view of the pandemic.”

The officer said e-snan water would be distributed through state-managed kiosks at the Gangasagar Mela free of cost. The Gangasagar Mela, which draws lakhs of pilgrims, would be held from January 12 to 16 this year.

The health department had suggested that only e-bathing for pilgrims could keep the situation under control. The bench said the matter would come up for the court’s scanning on January 13.

On that day, the state would file an affidavit about its plan and preparations. Only after verifying the affidavit, the bench will pass its final order.

Makar Sankranti falls on January 14.

The maximum congregation of pilgrims takes place at Sagar Island on January 14.

During the course of hearing, the Chief Justice expressed concern over the negligence on the part of people in Calcutta who “are seen moving without masks” in a pandemic situation.

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