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Virus block on Basanta Utsav

Organising the event by restricting the number of visitors was also ruled out
Girls on Friday rehearse for dance on Basanta Utsav day.

Snehamoy Chakraborty   |   Santiniketan   |   Published 06.03.20, 08:05 PM

Visva-Bharati’s festival of colours — Basanta Utsav — will not be held for the “time being” following a University Grants Commission advisory to heads of all universities asking them not to organise mass gatherings as a precautionary measure to prevent a coronavirus outbreak.

At a meeting that lasted for over four hours on Friday, the Visva-Bharati authorities decided not to hold the festival on March 9. Organising the event by restricting the number of visitors was also ruled out.

“We have finally decided to cancel Basanta Utsav this year even though preparations were in the final stage and the state government had extended all help. But we can’t take a risk after receiving the UGC’s directive in view of the coronavirus threat,” said Sushovan Banerjee, the President’s nominee in Visva-Bharati’s executive council.

Although Banerjee said the festival had been “cancelled”, the notification issued by Visa-Bharati says: “…the members of the Executive Council unanimously resolved not to hold Vasantotsava for the time being to avoid large gathering on the campus.”

Asked whether Basanta Utsav would be celebrated at a later date, Banerjee said: “We can plan to organise the programme on a smaller scale only if the outbreak of the coronavirus is arrested.”

This year’s Basanta Utsav had landed in controversy after Visva-Bharati had said it did not have the financial and administrative infrastructure to organise the event on Holi. The Bengal government had intervened and sanctioned Rs 82 lakh to host the programme. Fisheries minister Chandranath Sinha, who had been looking after the arrangements on behalf of the state government, said it was Visva-Bharati’s decision to cancel the event.

“Visva-Bharati had sought our help to hold the event and we were prepared to manage the crisis. It is a programme of Visva-Bharati and if the university has decided to cancel it, what can we do? They have a direction from the UGC,” Sinha, who is also the chairman of the Sriniketan-Santiniketan Development Authority, asked

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