The Calcutta High Court on 10th January modified certain conditions imposed earlier while allowing the State Government to hold this year's, Gangasagar Mela. The court has permitted the mela amidst the fresh surge in Covid-19 cases in West Bengal.
The Mela is one of the largest human congregations in the world. It is just the second after the Kumb. It takes place every year during the festivals of Makkar Sankranti/ Lohri/ Pongal etc.
The surge of Covid-19 cases in India hasn't left West Bengal's South 24 Parganas untouched. The surge had created many apprehensions of Mela during 2022. Now, the same is allowed to be conducted by the Calcutta High Court (The high court holds jurisdiction over West Bengal).
The High Court has permitted the Mela with some conditions. The same are as follows.
(1) The competent authority of the State will take a decision to issue the Notification in terms of Section 3 of the Gangasagar Mela Act, 1976 declaring the Sagar Island as a "Notified area" within a period of 24 hours from the pronouncement of this order.
(2) The Home Secretary of the State of West Bengal will ensure that the restrictions, especially the restriction No. 10 contained in the order dated 02nd January 2022 issued by the State is duly implemented without any lapse in Gangasagar Island during the Mela period.
3) The Home Secretary of the State will issue advertisements in the daily newspapers having wide circulation in the State of West Bengal and also through the electronic media making the public aware of the risk of visiting Gangasagar Island between 08th and 16th January 2022 in a large gathering and will make an appeal to them to WPA(P) 1 of 2022 stay safe and desist from visiting the Gangasagar Island during this period.
4) We deemed it proper to reconstitute the Committee with the retired Judge of this High Court as Chairperson to review the situation on the spot at Ganga Sagar Island. It will constitute two-member comprising Smt. Samapti Chatterjee, Retired Judge of the Calcutta High Court as Chairperson and Member Secretary, West Bengal Legal Services Authority as a member, who will keep vigil in respect of compliance of the directions contained in the order dated 7th of January, 2022 and the measures suggested by the State in the affidavit dated 6th of January, 2022. Secretary, Home will extend all requisite assistance including arrangements for transportation, security etc. to the above Committee. In case of any shortcoming in compliance with the direction of this Court is noticed or it is found that gathering in Mela is leading to the spread of COVID virus then the Committee will make a recommendation to the State without any delay to ban entry into the Sagar Islands, on which the competent authority of the State will take immediate action.
(5) Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department, Government of West Bengal will ensure that only persons who have received the two doses of COVID vaccination and are having second vaccination certificate are permitted to enter the Sagar Islands during the Mela period. (3) Only those who are having COVID negative in RTPCR report within 72 hours, will be permitted to enter the Sagar Islands.