The Durgotsav Forum, an umbrella organisation of Kolkata’s 400 biggest pujas, is likely to file a review petition on Tuesday against the Calcutta High Court order declaring pandals “no-entry zones” for visitors, reported NDTV. On Monday, the High Court said only organisers will be allowed inside the pandals and capped the number of organisers allowed inside – 25 for big pandals and 15 for the smaller ones.
After the judgement, Durgotsav Forum head Saswat Bose had called it a huge setback. “My first reaction is huge disappointment,” he had said. “What about economic losses? Huge expenses have already been incurred. The puja we do is not a matter of loss or gain. We do puja from a passion. We are shocked. Let’s see what happens.” Durga Puja celebrations will begin on October 22.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also held a meeting with the administration, after the court’s ruling, to decide the next step. “It is a setback for Puja organisers...we will wait for the government to speak,” said Saugata Roy, Trinamool Congress MP.
On Monday, the Calcutta High Court said all puja pandals should be declared containment zones in view of the coronavirus pandemic. The court also directed that the names of Durga Puja organisers allowed inside the puja pandals to be displayed outside the pandals.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation on the matter of Durga Puja celebrations being allowed in the state. Justice Sanjib Bandhopadhay asked how 20,000 police personnel will control a crowd that can swell up to three lakh. He observed that the police does not have enough resources to control the crowd if people descend onto the streets.
Around 37,000 Durga Puja events have been announced across the state and the Trinamool Congress-led government has granted Rs 50,000 to each organiser. Last week, the Calcutta High Court had ruled that money allocated by the state for Durga Puja can only be spent on distribution of masks, sanitisers and community policing, and not for organising the event or for entertainment of organisers.
The state has been receiving flak for allowing puja celebrations as videos on social media have showed large gatherings of people, often without wearing masks or following any physical distancing.
West Bengal has close to 34,000 active Covid-19 cases and more than 6,000 deaths as of Monday, according to the health ministry.