Covid norms to be in place for pilgrims at Ganga Sagar Mela
Sagar Island: In the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, Ganga Sagar Mela will not be the same for the pilgrims this year. Restrictions have been put in place to contain the spread of virus.
"We have restricted the number of pilgrims coming to Kapil Muni Mandir during the Ganga Sagar Mela. This year, only 10 to 15 visitors will be allowed to enter the Mandir," said priest Chandan Das.
He reiterated that physical distance, hand sanitiser and use of mask will be compulsory for the devotees. At the time of offering 'prasad' to the God, pilgrims and priests will have to wear gloves.
The COVID-19 guidelines of the state government will be followed inside the Mandir premises. During pre-COVID-19 pandemic period, around 30 to 35 priests used to perform the rituals inside the Mandir at the time of Ganga Sagar Mela. This year, only 15 to 20 priests will be allowed inside the Mandir. Special barricade will be put up at the entrance of the Mandir.
Police will be deployed at the entrance of the Mandir to ensure that people maintain COVID-19 protocol. "We will be maintaining the Pilgrim Transport Management System," said P Ulaganathan, District Magistrate of South 24-Parganas.
Intelligent assessment and management of the crowd will be maintained to avoid any calamity on a real time basis. There will be GPS tracking of all vehicles and ferries carrying pilgrims.
"There will be special volunteers in the buses to monitor the crowd and physical distance," pointed out an official. He reiterated that keeping in mind the COVID-19 pandemic special isolation wards will be set up. At present, there are only 7 ferry services operational on a daily basis.
During Ganga Sagar Mela (from January 10 to January 18), 25 ferries will be made operational from Lot 8 to Kochuberia.
Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) will arrange facilities for COVID-19 testing and set up an isolation unit at the camp for the pilgrims at Babughat.
The state Transport department will also run special bus services for pilgrims from Babughat and Howrah to Lot 8 jetty. Every year, Ganga Sagar Mela is conducted in mid-January and lakhs of people take the holy dip at the confluence of river Ganga and Bay of Bengal.