The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday said that entry to the ongoing Gangasagar Mela in West Bengal will be given only to fully-vaccinated people or those with a negative RT-PCR test report not older than 72 hours, PTI reported.

The religious fair, which started on January 8 on the Sagar Island amid a surge in Covid cases in the state, will conclude on January 16. Thousands of pilgrims are expected to take a dip in the river Ganga.

The division bench of Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Kesong Doma Bhutia asked the West Bengal chief secretary to ensure that all safety measures are implemented and Covid protocols are followed.

Last week, the High Court allowed the state government to host the yearly fair amid the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic but asked the authorities to make the public aware of the risks involved.

Covid cases have been increasing in West Bengal, particularly in Kolkata where the positivity rate crossed 41%. On Sunday, West Bengal had registered 24,287 new Covid-19 cases, in its highest ever single-day rise.

Kolkata alone reported 8,712 new Covid-19 cases, while the neighbouring district of Howrah registered 1,742 cases. Other districts that reported over 1,000 new coronavirus cases included Hooghly (1,276), South 24 Parganas (1,034) and Paschim Bardhaman (1,007).

Sagar Island is in South 24 Parganas district.

HC removes Suvendu Adhikari from monitoring committee

The High Court on Tuesday removed the Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari from a three-member committee formed on January 7 to oversee adherence to Covid protocols at the Gangasagar Mela.

The West Bengal government had objected to the inclusion of Adhikari and the state human rights commissioner in the committee, reported The Indian Express. On Monday, it filed a review petition in the High Court, saying that a “neutral person” should be named instead.

The court brought down the size of the panel to two members. It now comprises former Justice Samapti Chatterjee and the secretary of the West Bengal Legal Services Authority.