HC allows holding of Gangasagar Mela, stresses need for e- bathing

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Kolkata, Jan 13 (PTI) The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday allowed the Gangasagar Mela to be held this year while laying emphasis on the need for 'e-snan' (e-bathing) to avoid crowding for the holy dip at the confluence of the Ganga and the Bay of Bengal in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice T B N Radhakrishnan and Justice Arijit Banerjee asked the West Bengal government to provide 'e-snan' kit a small container with the holy water of Gangasagar - to pilgrims at the fair site in Sagar Island for free and for a nominal fee to people who order for it from other places.

The state administration already announced that such an arrangement have been made.

The state government informed the court that the number of pilgrims who have arrived this year is much less than that in other years.

It told the division bench that all health protocols are being maintained in the fair which attracts lakhs of pilgrims every year.

In a report to the high court, the state's Director of Health Services (DHS) said that the risk of COVID-19 transmission through bathing in flowing water like a river or saline water in a sea is extremely low.

'However, as a measure of abundant precaution, pilgrims are allowed to go for a dip in a staggered manner maintaining safe distance between one another,' the DHS said in the report.

The Calcutta High Court on January 8 directed the West Bengal government to file on Wednesday a report on the arrangements made for organising the Gangasagar Mela, based on which it will decide whether or not to allow the annual fair this year in the view of the pandemic situation. PTI AMR NN NN