Calcutta High Court: “Dissuade pilgrims for holy dip, opt for E-snan”

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Umamageswari Maruthappan

The Calcutta High Court advised the worshippers visiting the Ganga Sagar Mela to opt for E-snan, instead of going for a holy dip in the river. The order came amidst the concern over the pandemic.

The case [Ajay Kumar De. Vs. State of West Bengal & Ors.] was heard by the Bench comprising Chief Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan and Justice Arijit Banerjee through video conference.

The petitioner, Ajay Kumar De, directed the probability of unwanted results affecting health, safety and welfare due to the Ganga Sagar Mela 2021.

Earlier, on 7th January 2021, the Bench expressed its apprehensions over the transmission of virus when congregations take dips in the water and that the possibility of social distancing is very less during such large gatherings.

On 8th January 2021, the Bench cautioned the pilgrims to possibly stay away from the Ganges water.

On 13th January 2021, the Health and Family Welfare Department of Government of West Bengal stated that, “the risk of Covid-19 transmission through bathing in flowing water like a river or saline water in a sea is extremely low, and also the pilgrims are allowed to go for a dip in a staggered manner maintaining safe distance between one another.”

Additionally, “volunteers have also been placed at the beach to keep watch on the pilgrims and to ensure Covid appropriate behavior. Public address system in the Mela is also being intensively utilized to make the visitors aware of such behaviour”, the Department stated.

The High Court, accepting the report of the DHS, nevertheless advised the State Administration “to make all endeavours to dissuade the pilgrims for going for a holy dip and opt for E-snan”.

The next hearing of the matter is fixed on 18th January 2021.

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