Nearly 400 top Durga Puja organisers in Kolkata on Tuesday moved Calcutta High Court to seek review of the order declaring puja pandals as “No Entry” zones for visitors in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. They have come together under a body, the Durgotsav Forum.

On Monday, the court had ordered Durga Puja pandals as “No Entry” zones for visitors. According to the court order, the pandals must be barricaded and visitors are allowed 5 metres near the pandals (for small pandals) and 10 metres near pandals (in case of big pandals). Only few organisers can be allowed inside and the list cannot be changed, according to the court order.

For the Durga Puja organisers, this has been a major setback, say officials of the forum. They said that they have worked on the pandals for months and made arrangements including spending funds on masks, sanitisers and ensuring there is proper ventilation inside. They have spent on sanitisation tunnels and made plans for entry and exit, and feel this new instruction would affect the current planning. The Forum is thus seeking a review by bringing this to the notice of the court. The court will hear the matter on Wednesday.

The state government has coordinated planning with puja committees over the past month, and instructed them to keep pandals open with enough space for entry, exit and asked them to strictly follow COVID-19 protocols. The state had announced grant of Rs 50,000 for each of the “barowari” pujas across the state. Earlier, the court had asked organisers to spend most of the money on masks, sanitisers and the rest on coordinating with police on crowd management.

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