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'Burj Khalifa' Durga Puja pandal suspends laser show over COVID fears

Kolkata: A crowd-puller Durga Puja pandal in Kolkata, modelled on the world's tallest building Burj Khalifa, suspended its laser show following a massive gathering that stoked fears of the spread of COVID-19.

While some reports suggested that the laser show of Sribhumi Sporting Club, helmed by state minister Sujit Bose, was suspended after some pilots complained of obstruction in viewing due to it, organisers of the puja situated close to the Dumdum airport claimed that the measure was taken as the crowd was not moving forward, creating COVID and security hazards.

"We had to suspend our laser show on Saptami (Tuesday) evening as the crowd was not listening to our pleas to move forward. They were standing on the path in front of the marquee and watching the show till it got over. This was creating COVID and security hazards," one of the organisers, Dibyendu Goswami, told PTI.

The 150-feet-marquee, modelled on the 828-metre-Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai, is the biggest draw among puja revellers this year. The puja committee had planned a slow and continuous movement of revellers along the path to the pandal.

The laser show was suspended in consultation with state police and administration.

While the interior of the pandal was barricaded as per the Calcutta High Court order which made all marquees containment zones, revellers entered from one end of the lane on which the structure was erected and exited from the other but the narrow stretch became overcrowded during the laser show.

Some reports said the pandal is located a few kilometres from the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport and falls in the trajectory of the landing aircraft.

The minister had in the past themed his pandal on the sets of Bahubali and Padmavat movies, and Puri's Jagannath temple, stressing on opulence, and pomp and show to draw crowds.

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