The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday set guidelines for Chhath Puja congregation in West Bengal, amid the surging COVID-19 cases, and directed the state government to strictly enforce its ban on fire crackers during the upcoming festivals.
Taking a note of the health hazards that those affected by COVID-19 as well others might experience due to bursting of firecrackers, a division bench comprising justices Sanjib Banerjee and Arijit Banerjee directed the state to ensure that the prohibitory orders are followed everywhere.
The court also refused a entertain a prayer that sought a two-hour window for use of fire crackers during Diwali and Kali Puja. It directed the police to take action against any person selling or buying such items.
The court had last week ordered a complete ban on fireworks in the state during Kali Puja, Diwali and Chhath.
Setting guidelines for the Chhath Puja, the division bench imposed curbs on the number of people who can gather for rituals on the banks of rivers and other water bodies.
Two persons from each family can perform the rituals near the water bodies, while processions and playing of loud music would not be allowed, the court said.
The division bench asked the state government to take a call on restrictions that need to be enforced on local train travel during the festive days to prevent crowd surge.
Apart from Diwali and Chhat puja, people in parts of Bengal, especially in Hooghly district's Chandannagar, are also gearing up for Jagadhatri Puja, celebrated with much fanfare every year.
The bench also directed that those taking part in the celebrations should travel in open vehicles.
It ruled that the National Green Tribunal's ban on holding Chhath Puja rituals at Subhas Sarovar and Rabindra Sarobar in the city would be in place, unless the Supreme Court directs otherwise.
The Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) has moved the top court, challenging the tribunal order.
The division bench further asked the state government to submit a report in the form of an affidavit on compliance of its order and guidelines a week after the court reopens following the puja vacation.