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Business News/ News / India/  Open pandals, no cultural programmes: West Bengal govt issues guidelines ahead of Durga Puja

Open pandals, no cultural programmes: West Bengal govt issues guidelines ahead of Durga Puja

In all cases, masks, sanitizers, physical distancing and no-crowd principle shall be followed, the govt states
  • The state government is also going to provide ₹50,000 to each Durga puja committee of the state
  • Artisans give a finishing touch to an idol of Goddess Durga ahead of the Durga Puja festival (PTI)Premium
    Artisans give a finishing touch to an idol of Goddess Durga ahead of the Durga Puja festival (PTI)

    Ahead of Durga Puja festivities next month – the biggest annual extravaganza in the state – the West Bengal government issued certain orders and guidelines for the people as well as the Puja pandal committees across the state in wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

    "This year Puja is being organised and celebrated in the middle of this unprecedented pandemic. This demands proper and adequate health safety measures for the citizens. Puja Committees must ensure the health and safety norms for themselves and for the participants and visitors," the government said in a statement.

    Among the guidelines, social distancing, mandatory use of face masks and hand sanitisers at all times of visiting pandals, the government laid down a detailed list.

    Here are the following guidelines stated by the state government for the upcoming festivities:

    1) Spacious Open Pandals with Separate Entry-Exit: Pandals shall have to be spacious and should be kept open from all sides. If in case it becomes essential to have closed ceiling the sides will have to be kept open and if the sides have to be blocked, the ceiling has to be kept open.

    Moreover, the pandals must keep adequate space and arrangements for ensuring physical distancing in terms of the existing COVID-19 pandemic norms.There should be separate Entry and Exit arrangements with separate gates. Mingling and crowding should be avoided at all places.

    Floor markings and other signages should be made on entry and exit routes and assembly points to ensure compliance of physical distancing norms.

    2) Compulsory masks and hand sanitizers: Use of masks shall be compulsory for all visitors visiting the pandals. To meet any exigency organisers shall make adequate arrangements for distribution of masks in close vicinity of the pandal to the visitors who inadvertently come to the pandal premises without wearing masks.

    Use and availability of hand sanitizers should similarly be made compulsory in the pandal premises and neighbourhood.

    3) Volunteers and decongested rituals: Puja organisers must keep volunteers in adequate numbers for ensuring compliance of the norms of physical distancing among visitors, for enforcing wearing of masks and use of hand sanitizers. Volunteers themselves should wear face masks and face shields for safety.

    "Keeping in view the health safety of participants and organisers, Anjo Prayed Bitomn or Sindoor Khelo should be organised by Puja Committees in a planned manner and to the extent possible in smaller groups with spaced out timings in a staggered way," the government said in a statement.

    Priests should use microphones to utter the mantra so that the sound reaches worshipers standing even far away and people do not have to assemble closely in small spaces. Devotees may be encouraged to offer Anjali with flowers brought from homes, so that flower collection points in the pandals do not become congestion-points.

    4) No cultural programme programmes in/near the Puja pandal premises shall not be allowed.

    5) Low-key Award lodging: Judges for various Puja award programmes should not be allowed to enter Puja premises in huge convoys and large numbers. No more than two cars of judges at a time should be allowed to visit a pandal. Ideally all vlsits for 'judging the Pubes should be virtual and physical visits should be confined to the lean hours (between 10 am and 3 pm).

    5) Emphasis on electronic and social media: Electronic and social media should be used by the organisers and public authorities to make people aware to avoid large assembly and crowding on roads and near pandals. Organisers/ volunteers and police personnel on duty shall facilitate continuous movement of visitors to avoid unnecessary crowding.

    7) Low-key inaugurations and immersions: Inaugurations and immersions should be low-key and minimalist events without much pomp and grandeur. Wherever possible, inauguration should be in virtual mode. In all cases, masks, sanitizers, physical distancing and no-crowd principle shall be followed.

    Pre-planned allocation of time of Ghat slow to different Puja committees should be strictly adhered to. Ghats shall be properly sanitised before and during immersions with arrangements that facilitate the required physical distancing norms under the current situation. The Durga idol must be taken to the ghats directly without any stopover at any place avoiding unnecessary diversions.

    8) Online Permission: Physical contacts must be avoided in the permisslon—obtaining procedures also. Online system for required permission should be arranged by the concerned authorities.

    9) Spreading out the festivities over larger number of days: Adherence to the physical distancing no and other health safety measures that are required to be ensured during the current times may need spacing out the festival over larger number of days. Puja Committees should make necessary advance planning that facilitates visit to Puja pandals.

    10) No Carnival: In the context of the pandemic and the need to have physical distancing norms, the State Immersion carnival shall not be held this year. In similar vein, melas and carnivals near Puja pandals shall not be allowed.

    Since public health management in the pandemic time will entail greater costs and energies for the organisers, the State Government and other public and private organisations will help the Puja committees/ organisers as well.

    The state government is also going to provide 50,000 to each Durga puja committee of the state, Mamata announced in a press conference.

    The state will provide 2,000 to hawkers for Durga Puja. For this, a list of 75,000 hawkers prepared, Mamata added.

    A government official also said that state has made adequate provision to meet the power demand in the metropolis and districts during the festive days.

    "We are making a provision of five per cent excess demand for power this Durga Puja than the previous year. We have provisioned for 8,400MW demand in the state. However, power demand is likely to be less due to the pandemic," West Bengal Power Minister Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay said.

    Moreover, fire service authorities shall not charge any fees for their services. The state shall provide these emergency services free of cost.

    The administration and the police authorities shall provide necessary help and assistance to all Puja committees / organisers as would be required by them.

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    Published: 28 Sep 2020, 06:17 PM IST
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