Bedi against New Year celebrations in Puducherry, cites COVID; CM says events will go on with safety norms

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Puducherry, Dec 30 (PTI) Locking horns with the Congress government over allowing new year celebrations, Puducherry Lt Governor Kiran Bedi on Wednesday appealed to people to herald 2021 from their homes and avoid becoming super spreaders of coronavirus by gathering in public places.

Chief Minister V Narayanasamy, however, asserted festivities in hotels and at beaches here would be held in strict adherence to COVID-19 safety norms, saying the French culture in Puducherry was intertwined with such celebrations.

The celebrations would be held on the Beach Road and in hotels and restaurants here in a restricted manner as decided recently by the State Disaster Management Authority of which he is the chairman, the chief minister said.

The union territory of Puducherry, a former French colony, usually draws large number of tourists through the year and especially during occasions such as New Year eve.

Bedi, in a voice message, said: 'It's much better and safer to be spending the new year day at home keeping healthy and not letting others be affected either.' The former IPS officer, who has often been accused by Narayanasamy of interfering in the decisions of the elected government, said the Union Home Ministry has opined that new year celebrations in large gatherings and assemblies could become super spreaders of the coronavirus.

The Director General of Police had also through a press statement 'categorically announcedthat there would be no celebration on the Beach Road in Puducherry. Even if there is a visit by anyone, the person would be subject to intensive thermal screening and examination by doctors in case he or she showed symptoms,' she said.

'Please do not be part of the superspreading,' Bedi said, adding none would know who is affected by the virus in such gatherings.

She also asked people from neighbouring Tamil Nadu and other places intending to visit Puducherry not to be part of the 'superspreading' as New Year celebrations were not allowed anywhere.

Taking exception to her message, Narayanasamy told reporters that the Lt Governor could not issue instructions.

'Merely because the event is banned in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, we cannot follow suit as the French culture in Puducherry is intertwined with celebrations such as new year,' he said.

As of Wednesday, Puducherry has reported 38,096 COVID-19 cases and 633 deaths due to the disease. The number of active cases stood at 363 after 26 more people tested positive. PTI CORR VS VS