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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Goa withdraws Covid SOPs for Ganesh festival after CM differs

“I personally do not agree with some of the guidelines that were issued in the SOP, especially the one stopping priests from going to individual households for puja. Ganesh Chaturthi is the most important festival in Goa and such rituals are an integral part of it,” Sawant said in a tweet.

Written by MAYURA JANWALKAR | Panaji |
Updated: September 8, 2021 5:52:35 am
Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant. (File)

HOURS AFTER the Goa government issued Covid-appropriate guidelines for Ganesh Chaturthi, which begins on September 10, it withdrew them after Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said he personally did not agree with curbs on priests visiting homes for individual pujas.

“I personally do not agree with some of the guidelines that were issued in the SOP, especially the one stopping priests from going to individual households for puja. Ganesh Chaturthi is the most important festival in Goa and such rituals are an integral part of it,” Sawant said in a tweet.

Prevailing over the expert committee of doctors that suggested the guidelines, he said, “While the Expert Committee may have suggested such curbs, I have asked the administration to withdraw the SOP immediately. Chaturthi must be celebrated with full fervor while taking all the necessary precautions, given the pandemic. May Lord Ganesh bless us all.”

The SOPs had listed several guidelines to be followed during the 10-day festival such as discouraging the elderly and children from visiting idol-making workshops, barring those with a member in home isolation from hosting or visiting others, restricting idol immersion timing from 5 pm to 10 pm, mandatory face cover and hand sanitisers, not more than five people in vehicles carrying Ganesh idols.

The SOPs also prevented people in containment zones from associating with neighbours or outsiders during the festival.

Among general instructions, the SOPs had stated, “Use of firecrackers, fireworks etc. in violation of norms set up by the Pollution Control Board or any other authority in respect sound and air pollution shall be prohibited as post Covid patients may suffer from exacerbation of symptoms as direct impact of pollution.”

“We have withdrawn the SOPs keeping sentiments of all the people in mind. These were suggestions given by doctors on the expert committee following a meeting held according to directions of the High Court. And they have been taken as SOPs just as they were routinely on the file. Ganesh Chaturthi is a state festival and there is excitement about it in every home. I understand people’s sentiments. Everyone wants a priest to come to their house and perform a puja and everyone also wants to have a proper Ganpati immersion,” said the Chief Minister.

“I can only appeal to people that they must take all precautions to ensure that there is no spread of Covid-19. Under section 144, the routine SOPs issued by Collectors should be followed and there should be no crowding,” he said.

He said home isolation patients should take all the necessary precautions and about the rest, there should be no panic among people. “Considering that this is a major festival, we have withdrawn the SOPs. I feel if all Goenkars take proper precautions, there is no need for separate SOPs,” Sawant said.

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