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Gangasagar Mela: West Bengal govt ready to go ahead with Mela, tells HC

The West Bengal government, in an affidavit to the court on Thursday, said that it would go ahead with the annual pilgrimage fair after taking measures necessary to prevent the spread of Covid-19 at the event.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata |
January 7, 2022 4:23:01 am
Gangasagar Mela: West Bengal govt ready to go ahead with Mela, tells HCOn Wednesday, the Bench had asked the state government to “seriously consider” cancelling the Gangasagar Mela in the larger public interest. (File Photo)

The Calcutta High Court on Thursday reserved its judgment on a plea seeking cancellation of the Gangasagar Mela in the wake of the rising Covid-19 cases.

The West Bengal government, in an affidavit to the court on Thursday, said that it would go ahead with the annual pilgrimage fair after taking measures necessary to prevent the spread of Covid-19 at the event.

The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Kesang Doma Bhutia is likely to pronounce the order on Friday.

On Wednesday, the Bench had asked the state government to “seriously consider” cancelling the Gangasagar Mela in the larger public interest. The Bench had also directed the government to submit an affidavit spelling out its stand on whether it intends to hold the event, and, if so, what measures were to be taken to ensure prevention of a Covid spread.

On Thursday, Advocate General SN Mukherjee, representing the State, informed the court that the residents of Sagar Island have been administered both doses of Covid vaccines and the test-positivity rate in Diamond Harbour was under control. He said the government wasn’t anticipating the turnout at the fair this year to be more than 5 lakh, adding that 50,000 seers have already arrived and 30,000 people have already visited the fair.

The AG further told the court that close to 71 per cent of adults have been given the first dose of vaccines and approximately 50 per cent of the state’s population have received both doses.

He said huge numbers of police personnel, volunteers and medical personnel would be deployed at the fair venue to take care of visitors in the event of an emergency. “A temporary hospital is being built and sufficient numbers of isolation beds, safe homes and quarantine centres were being arranged to deal with the prevailing Covid situation,” the AG said, adding that, “All pilgrims will be screened and will only be allowed to visit the fair after submitting their double vaccination certificates. If anyone tests positive during the event, he or she will be immediately isolated.”

Advocate Srijib Chakraborty, representing the petitioner, argued that if the government could cancel the Kolkata International Film Festival, why couldn’t it make a similar announcement with regard to Gangasagar Mela. He also
cited the increase in the number of Covid patients across the state over the last week.

After hearing both sides, the Bench reserved its order.

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