Mumbai, Aug 18 (PTI) Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday appealed people to avoid crowding during the Ganesh festival and follow guidelines about the height of idols and their immersion.
The festival, which in normal times brings lakhs of people on roads in a city like Mumbai, will begin on August 22 under the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic.
Thackeray was speaking at a review meeting with top officials through video conference where Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Home Minister Anil Deshmukh and Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope were also present.
'The forthcoming Ganeshotsav which comes against the backdrop of COVID-19 crisis should be celebrated peacefully, keeping social responsibility in mind,' Thackeray was quoted as saying in an official statement.
'Care should be taken to avoid crowding and it should be ensured that the disease does not spread,' he said.
So far, people from all religions have cooperated with the government during festivals during lockdown, the chief minister noted.
'Guidelines (issued by the state home department) say that the height of idols installed by sarvajanik Ganesh mandals (groups which celebrate the festival in public) should be (maximum of) four feet and that of idols installed at home be two feet.
'While following this guideline, no processions should be taken out before installing and immersing idols to avoid crowding,' he said.
Ganesh mandals should facilitate online `darshan' of idols, Thackeray said.
He also instructed the authorities to increase COVID- 19 testing, control test charges and ensure that test reports are made available at the earliest.
As vaccine is not available yet, wearing masks, cleaning hands and observing discipline is the only solution for now, the chief minister said.
Home minister Deshmukh asked the police to keep an eye on mischievous videos on social media.
He also asked local government bodies to create a maximum number of artificial ponds to avoid crowding during immersion of idols.
Divisional commissioners, district collectors, chief executive officers of zilla parishads, municipal commissioners and district police superintendents attended the meeting. PTI ENM KRK KRK