The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday partially modified its earlier order of declaring Durga Puja pandals across West Bengal as “no-entry zones” amid the coronavirus pandemic and increased the number of people who are allowed inside at a time, the Hindustan Times reported. The court’s order came a day before Durga Puja celebrations kickstart across India.
The Durgotsav Forum, an umbrella organisation of Kolkata’s 400 biggest pujas, filed a review petition and the court has now raised the limit on the number of puja committee members who can enter the pandal. A division bench of Justices Sanjib Banerjee and Arijit Banerjee said a list of persons who will be allowed inside should be fixed on a daily basis. These lists will be put outside the pandals every day at 8 am, according to NDTV.
The court said for larger pandals, whose area is more than 300 square metres, the list can include 60 names, but only only 45 persons can be present inside. For smaller pandals, the list can include 30 names and only 15 people will be allowed to assemble at a particular time.
In its Monday order, the court had allowed 15 organisers inside smaller pandals and 25 for bigger ones.
Local residents are also allowed to enter the premises, according to the Hindustan Times. Additionally, dhakis or traditional drummers, have been given permission in the “no-entry zone” outside the pandal, reported The Hindu. They will have to wear masks and follow physical distancing guidelines.
The court, however, denied permission for Sindoor Khela, a traditional ritual in which women smear each other with vermillion, reported ABP Ananda.
The court had on Monday observed that the state police do not have enough resources to control the crowd if people descend on the streets. It had said “no entry” notices should be put up near the pandals this year to inform people about the situation.