West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday (November 19) appealed to people to perform Chhath puja in their homes. Those who need to step out to go to a pond or a river, she has requested they do so in small groups, both on account of COVID risks and court rulings.

Despite the government willingness to allow devotees to perform puja at Rabindra Sarovar lake and the Subhas Sarovar lake, courts have rejected the proposition on grounds of outbreak of COVID-19 and pollution caused to the water bodies.

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During the day, the Calcutta High Court made it clear that devotees won’t be allowed at the Subhas Sarovar, located in the northern parts of the city, and directed the police to take necessary steps in this regard.

In another development earlier in the day, the Supreme Court refused to pass any order on a petition filed by the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) seeking a review of the order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), where it disallowed Chhath puja at the Rabindra Sarovar, located south of the city.

Mamata Banerjee in a video message, appealed to people to offer pujas from home or at neighbourhood ponds, many of which have been created by the government. She said devotees may even perform the puja in the river but without processions as directed by the High Court.

The chief minister said, “Some states have banned Chhath puja, but we will appeal that those who want to perform puja to do it from home. Those who want to go to ponds or rivers must go in small groups without crowding and adhere to guidelines of the pandemic”. The government had declared 2 days holiday for Chhath puja celebration.”

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During the day, the civic authorities were seen constructing barricades using bamboo and tin sheets outside the Rabindra Sarovar and the Subhas Sarovar.

The Chhath puja will be observed on November 20 and 21.