Amid the spread of coronavirus, the Calcutta High Court on Monday said that Durga Puja pandals would be no-entry zones for visitors.

The court’s reaction comes while hearing a PIL on the attendees at the pandal and it said that only organisers will be allowed inside the pandals, 25 in big pandals and 15 in the smaller ones, amid the fears of rising coronavirus cases in West Bengal.

The HC has directed puja committees that all pandals will have to erect barricades at the entrance of the pandals and the distance is five meters for small pandals and 10 meters for big pandals. A list of the organisers have to be put up outside the pandal and they are the only ones allowed to enter.

The court has asked puja committees to submit a plan on crowd management as the court said there are not enough policemen in Kolkata to manage the crowds in 3000 plus puja pandals in the city.

The High Court had ordered organisers to spend 75 per cent of the Rs 50,000 grant given by the Mamata Banerjee government on Covid-19 precautions like sanitises and masks and the rest on public awareness, a few days back.

The Division Bench had asked the state counsel that though it is proud of Durga puja but can funds be disbursed in this manner. “Can such differences be made in a democratic system?” it further asked.

The court pointed out that the reason for such funds was enunciated as aiding committees to buy masks and sanitisers, however, it observed, the state could have purchased it which would have cost lesser.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee last month had announced a grant of Rs 50,000 to each Durga Pujo committee in the state.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been a tough time for all of us. We have decided to provide Rs 50,000 grant to each Durga Puja committee of the state. We have also decided that CESC and the state electricity board will give 50 percent waiver for the puja committees,” she had said addressing the Durga Puja Coordination meeting in Kolkata’s Netaji Indoor Stadium.

West Bengal has been reporting a high number of the daily spike in new cases and deaths. West Bengal has reported 3,983 new cases and 64 fatalities in the last 24 hours taking its toll to 3,21,036 cases and 6,056 fatalities.

With a spike of 55,722 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, India’s Covid-19 case tally has crossed the 75.5 lakh mark, according to Ministry of Health.

India’s coronavirus case tally stands at 75,50,273, with 7,72,055 active Covid-19 cases. The active cases in the country which comprise 10.23 per cent of the total caseload. The number of active cases remained below eight lakh for the third consecutive day in the country.

In the last 24 hours, the country has recorded 66,399 recoveries taking the total recoveries to 66,63,608. The recovery rate now stands at 88.26 per cent.