Durga Puja committees to get Rs 50K; Covid norms to remain in place

Durga Puja committees to get Rs 50K; Covid norms to remain in place

Kolkata: The Bengal government on Tuesday announced a financial grant of Rs 50,000 to each Durga Puja organiser this year as well to assist them to host the mega festival without facing financial constraints when the economy has slowed down due to the pandemic.

With the second wave yet to ebb, the state government has also clarified that the Covid guidelines followed last year would be executed this time as well.

However, the Red Road Carnival may get organised on October 18 if the Covid situation permits. "The final decision in regards to holding the Red Road Carnival, which gained immense popularity, on October 18 would be taken later only after assessing the Covid situation," Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said.

The decision to allow pandal hopping at night would also be taken in the first week of October. The Durga Puja begin on October 12 this year — the day of Maha Saptami. The Chief Minister has announced that immersion of idols of Goddess Durga and her entourage can be carried out from October 15 to 17.

With the bypoll in Bhowanipore Assembly segment announced from where Banerjee is contesting as the Trinamool Congress candidate, Chief Secretary HK Dwivedi announced that Rs 50,000 would be given to each of the Puja organisers. There would be a 50 per cent subsidy on power tariff and all license fees to get permission of Fire and Emergency Services department and local civic bodies or Panchayats to host Durga Puja have been waived off. The state government had provided support of Rs 50,000 last time as well.

At least 36,000 Durga Pujas, including 2,500 in Kolkata, would get the benefit of the state government's financial assistance. There are around 1,500 Durga Pujas that are held by women. The Chief Minister has also urged organisers of "big Pujas" to support the "smaller ones" and those organised by women. Kolkata Police Commissioner Soumen Mitra announced that this year, too, the 'Ashan' app would be launched facilitating an online single window system for Durga Puja organisers to apply for Puja permissions.

Stating that Durga Puja is the state's biggest festival, the Chief Minister urged both the police and Puja organisers to be alert to avoid any sort of instigation to disturb peace and harmony during the Puja. "Peace and harmony is the tradition of Bengal. It should not get disturbed at any cost. I would request the police and Puja organisers to be alert so that no one can instigate any untoward incident to destabilise the peace. Cooperation between the police, local clubs and Puja organisers should be strengthened," Banerjee said. Banerjee, on Tuesday, attended the Durga Puja coordination meeting organised by the Kolkata Police and Kolkata Municipal Corporation at Netaji Indoor Stadium in which dharma gurus from all communities and representatives of different clubs were present.

In regards to the meeting, Banerjee said: "We need to follow certain norms when the election process is on. It would have been late if we had organised it after the by-elections as Maha Saptami is on October 12. Today's meeting has been organised only after taking necessary permission." She also stated that her government has written to UNESCO to include Durga Puja, which leads to a financial transaction of Rs 32,000 crore, in the 'List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity'.

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