In the wake of the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) ban on any sort of puja or social activities in Rabindra Sarovar lake due to pollution, the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) has identified 10 new water bodies for observing Chhath Puja scheduled on 2 November. The list of the 10 alternative ghats was finalised at a meeting chaired by state urban development minister and KMDA chairman Firhad Hakim on Saturday.
Around 30,000 devotees have been observing Chhath rituals in Rabindra Sarovar for the last few years. Initially, two alternative sites were identified by KMDA namely near Nonadanga and Baishnabghata Patuli Jheel and infrastructure development of these ghats are in the last phase. The ten new ghats that have been identified are namely Kutty Pukur waterbody, Madartala Pukur, Ramdhan Park pond, waterbody inside Govindan Kutty park, Jodhpur Park Lake, waterbody inside Nature Park at Taratala, a pond opposite to a private hospital at Kasba Bypass connector and a few others near Rabindra Sarovar.
According to an official, some of these water bodies need cleaning and KMDA will spend Rs 50 lakh for developing the infrastructure of these ghats like introducing drinking water facilities, bio toilets, assistance centres, arrangement for changing of clothes particularly for women after observing rituals and creating infrastructure for ghats. KMDA officials have already visited all the sites and has prepared a plan for undertaking the necessary work for upgrading the infrastructure.
The NGT has imposed a ban on littering in or around the lake, bathing in its water, using excessive bright lights around it, washing clothes or utensils, emitting sound that disturb the birds in the area and entering the lake premises with any kind of plastic bag. Earlier, it was sectional holiday on the occasion of Chhat Puja in government offices. From last year onwards, a general holiday has been declared on this festival. This year, employees would get an additional holiday on 4 November which is Monday as 2 November is a Saturday as some offices are closed on this day.