Millennium Post

Rabindra Sarovar's gates forced open again for Chhath Puja

Kolkata: Devotees flouted the orders of National Green Tribunal for the second time within 12 hours and performed Chhath Puja at Rabindra Sarovar on Sunday morning.

However, voluntary cleaners roped in by Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) and Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) were prompt enough in cleaning the waterbody as well as the bank of the Sarovar within two hours after the rituals ended, at around 7.30 am in the morning.

A senior official of KMDA said on Sunday that a case has been filed against unknown persons at Rabindra Sarovar police station and a preliminary report has been sent by CEO KMDA to the state Chief Secretary, mentioning the sequence of events that led to violation of the NGT order and the action taken by KMDA for cleaning the national waterbody on Saturday evening and Sunday morning after the Chhath Puja was performed.

The report also mentions the awareness activities taken up by KMDA to dissuade the devotees from performing Puja at the sprawling waterbody.

However, in a rerun of Saturday, hundreds of devotees broke open the locked gates and went to the waterbody in the wee hours on Sunday to perform the rituals.

The security guards were outnumbered and with no police personnel around, they faced no resistance. Flowers, leaves and plastic debris were seen floating in the waterbody.

But soon after they left, the conservancy staff cleared the water as well as the bank of the lake within a short span of time.

The NGT, in a directive to the state government in October, had banned any kind of ritual for Chhath Puja or other festivals in Rabindra Sarovar that boasts of a rich biodiversity.

Environmentalist Subhas Dutta said that he has got at least 100 pictures of people moving inside the lake premises on Saturday and Sunday, offering puja at the waterbody.

"I feel sad at the sequence of events that unfolded on Saturday and Sunday. I will bring the matter to the notice of the NGT," he added.

Asked about Chhath devotees flouting the NGT order, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar said on Sunday that people should respect the orders of the NGT and comply with it.

The KMDA had kept all 15 gates of Rabindra Sarovar locked from November 2 midnight and had made arrangements for more than a dozen waterbodies in close proximity to the lake for Chhath devotees. However, a section of devotees refused to go to any alternative location and performed Puja at the Sarovar on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.

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