The Durga puja committees in Kolkata are now busy reworking their budget after Friday’s (October 16) Calcutta High Court order that has capped the discretionary use of government grants.

The Calcutta High Court has directed the community Durga Puja organisers in West Bengal to spend 75 percent of the Rs 50,000 grant given by the West Bengal government on the procurement of COVID protection equipment.

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Organizers of the Rajballav Para Pally Puja Samiti near Shyambazar tried to cut down some expenses to make provision for nearly Rs 32,500 out of Rs 50,000 grant that it needs to now spend only on masks and sanitizers.

Sreerupa Banerjee, member of the Samiti, said, “Since there were no such restrictions before, we had budgeted a portion of the fund for use in the puja. But now that we have to adhere to the order, we will only get Rs 17,500 for other expenses. We are now tinkering with our budget to ensure that at least basic costs for various rituals are met.”

Tarun Shaw, secretary of Hindustan Boys’ Sporting Club at Taltala, felt that they would not need much funds for masks and sanitizers because there will hardly be any visitors coming inside the pandal premises.

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For big-budget Puja organizers, these costs were, however, already factored in. Despite a slashed budget this year, they had made elaborate provisions keeping the Covid-19 in mind.

Rakesh Makhija, secretary of the Bengal Boys’ Training Association in Tollygunge, said, “We have halved our budget this year to Rs 2.5 lakh. Sponsors are unable to pay anything this year and people are already burdened. The grant was a breather for many like us. We will abide by the rules and we are trying to find a way out.”