Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court ordered Monday that all Durga Puja pandals across West Bengal will be declared no-entry zones to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
A division bench of the high court comprising Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Arijit Banerjee, hearing a public interest litigation, said that no visitors will be allowed to enter the marquees.
For small pandals, barricades will have to be put up five metres from the entrance, while for the bigger ones, the distance has to be 10 metres, the court ordered. There should be no-entry boards on the barricades, it said.
The court also ordered that only 15 to 25 persons belonging to the organising committees will be allowed to enter the pandals.
But the Calcutta High Court order did not have any effect on the revellers. Braving intermittent rain, hordes of people were seen flocking big-ticket Durga puja pandals here Monday morning with little or no regard for social distancing norms.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had last week announced that revellers can go pandal hopping from ‘Tritiya’ – three days before the rituals begin – to avoid crowding on the last four days of the annual extravaganza.
At some of the popular marquees in the city, such as Ekdalia Evergreen, Singhi Park, Sribhumi Sporting and Badamtala Asar Sangha, people were not allowed to step inside without masks. Crowd management, however, remained a challenge as swarms of revellers gathered outside the pandals, despite repeated warnings by the puja committees.
The COVID-19 death toll in West Bengal went past the 6,000-mark Sunday with 64 more fatalities, even as a record number of 3,983 fresh cases pushed the tally to 3,21,036.