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COVID-19 scare: Vax mandatory for Puja revellers, committees adapt to new normal

By Staff Correspondent

Silchar, Oct 1: Following Government directions, the Cachar district administration has made COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for Durga puja organizers and the revelers as well.

In a meeting held recently with the Puja organizers, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Dipak Jidung explained the objective of the meeting and discussed at length the Covid -19 preventive standard operating procedure imposed by the State Government this year safely and peacefully.

"As per the Government guidelines, vaccination is mandatory and the puja committees should allow devotees (exceptions allowed for those below 18 years) only after ensuring that they have at least one doze of vaccination. Moreover, all volunteers, priests and Puja organizers must get mandatorily tested for COVID-19 before the Puja starts (on Panchami day) and after immersion (Ekadashi day) even though they may be vaccinated," the ADC said informing additionally about maintaining enough open spaces at the Puja pandals and adhering to other norms as well.

Cachar Deputy Commissioner Keerthi Jalli said that a mega COVID-19 vaccination camp will be held across Cachar district on October 2 on Gandhi Jayanti. Interestingly, as per data received from the District Health Department, till September 29, as many as 12, 06,593 persons have been vaccinated. Joint Director of Health Services Dr Ashutosh Barman said "while our target for September was 12, 84,441, till 29th September we reached 12, 06,593." He informed that a detailed plan will be chalked out for monitoring the vaccination and COVID appropriate behavior as requested to the various Puja committees to adhere to.

Silchar MLA Dipayan Chakraborty too feels that even as vaccination drive is going on in full swing across the district, people must stay alert and maintain safety norms to ensure that the cases do not inflate during and after the Puja festivities.

On the other hand, as the district gears up for the Puja festivities amidst the threat of a possible third wave of the pandemic, puja organising committees are acclimatising to the new normal considering the safety aspects to avoid another spike in cases post the carnival.

SB Dutta, president of Ananda Parishad Puja committee in Tarapur feels that despite the measures, the directions should fall flat if the administration does not keep a close vigil. "We are all responsible citizens and nobody can deny the fact that chances of cases increasing during or after festivals is high. Yes, Durga Puja is the biggest festival and people will unleash themselves enjoying every moment of the festive days. People must stay aware and maintain the COVID safety norms and the administration must also keep a close eye on the practical implementation of the guidelines," Dutta said. He added that on behalf of the Puja committee, adequate awareness measures would be taken at the Puja pandal.

Organisers of the Dakshin Bilpar Durga Puja Committee, one of the must see puja spots in Silchar are of the view that while majority of the population would be covered with first shots of the vaccine, chances of infection spread would be low and urged people to act responsibly for the larger interest.

Sabyasachi Roy, president of the Puja committee shared his views on the guidelines. "We have scaled down our budget for obvious reasons. Our volunteers will ensure that the Puja revelers enter the pandal with facemasks on. However, we have requested the administration to facilitate us with the testing of the volunteers and members by forming mobile medical testing teams," he said.

Tamal Kanti Banik, president of Ambikapur Purbapara-Hospital Road Puja Committee which its celebrating 102 years of the Puja celebrations said, " even after accelerated vaccination drives, there could be many who are yet to be vaccinated(even with the first jab). People must maintain safety and stay responsible as we cannot be sure about the exit of COVID as yet. At our pandal, we shall maintain all the safety norms as per the COVID-9 guidelines."

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