The ban on Chhath Puja at Rabindra Sarobar Lake and Subhas Sarobar Lake is very much this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On Monday (November 16), the Supreme Court refused to grant a stay on the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) order banning it at the former lake, sought by Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA).

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Last week, the Calcutta High Court had extended the ban to the latter lake as well.

Listing the matter for hearing on November 23, three days after the festival, the apex court questioned KMDA’s urgency in seeking to overturn the two-year NGT order and asked why it had not approached the court earlier. 

Justice Uday U Lalit said the matter would be heard in the court of Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, where the matter had originally been listed.

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On November 10, Calcutta HC had said that additionally, Subhas Sarobar “will be totally out of bounds for Chhat Puja celebrations.” The court had observed that if no order was passed on KMDA’s petition by SC, the NGT’s order had to be implemented “without exception.”

KMDA had moved Supreme Court after the NGT summarily dismissed its petition to revise the order. No KMDA official was willing to come on record, though all acknowledged that they had their work cut out to implement NGT’s order, which KMDA had failed to do in the past two years, with just four days to go for the festival.

A KMDA official said, “The NGT order disallowing Chhath Puja at Rabindra Sarobar stands. Like last year, all measures will be taken to inform devotees to conduct the rituals at an alternative site.”