Cal HC turns down Bengal govt plea, no Chhath Puja rituals at Subhas Sarobar

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(Eds: With more inputs) Kolkata, Nov 19 (PTI) The Calcutta High Court on Thursday refused to vacate a prohibition on Chhath Puja rituals at Subhas Sarobar, a large waterbody in the eastern part of the city in view of pollution and COVID-19 safety concerns, rejecting a plea by the West Bengal government.

The state government sought permission to allow Subhas Sarobar to be used for Chhath Puja ceremonies on the ground that it is outside the purview of a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order that had been challenged before the high court.

The NGT had ordered a ban on such rituals at Rabindra Sarobar to prevent pollution of the waterbody in southern Kolkata.

The division bench comprising justices Sanjib Banerjee and Arijit Banerjee observed that since the court finds little difference between Rabindra Sarobar and Subhas Sarobar, the prohibitory order passed by the NGT should apply with equal force to the latter.

Refusing the West Bengal government's prayer for modification of the November 10 order, the court directed that the prohibitory order on Chhath Puja celebrations at Subhas Sarobar will remain in force.

The high court also commended the state for the manner in which the prohibition on firecrackers was implemented, at least in and around the metropolis.

'There were, doubtless, disturbing pockets and the stray use of fireworks; but, by and large, it was a sound and smoke-free Kali Puja and Diwali that the city and its adjoining areas experienced,' the bench noted.

The court expressed hope that the state continues in the same vein during Chhath Puja, Jagadhatri Puja and Guru Nanak Jayanti celebrations.

The division bench had on November 10 ordered a complete ban on firecrackers throughout West Bengal for the remainder of the month of November, and certain other directions were issued in respect of Kali Puja and Chhath Puja festivities. PTI AMR RBT RBT