Chhath puja celebrated in city lake, 'flouting' NGT order
Loud music were played, fire crackers were burst and flowers and fruits were offered in the water flouting the ban, but the police took no action, environmentalists claimed and said they would file a contempt of court petition
Thousands of devotees offered Chhath puja at the Rabindra Sarobar, a 73 acre lake in south Kolkata, on Tuesday despite a ban on celebrating it there by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to stop pollution. Loud music were played, fire crackers were burst and flowers and fruits were offered in the water flouting the ban, but the police took no action, environmentalists claimed and said they would file a contempt of court petition.
The police, however, said the revellers did not enter the lake premises in processions as vehicles, band parties and DJ music players were stopped at the gate of the lake. In an order on November 3 last year, the NGT East Zone had allowed Chhath Puja for that year only. Rabindra Sarobar which is part of the National Lake Conservation Plan of the Government of India, the NGT had banned the rituals to prevent pollution of the lake and the surrounding manicured gardens and sprawling grounds.
The lake is also home to several species of birds and migratory birds. In its order the NGT had directed that there should not be any bursting of crackers or use of loudspeakers and directed the authorities to ensure that the water of the lake does not suffer from pollution owing to offerings like flowers, fruits and other materials. Environmentalist S M Ghosh told PTI that thousands of devotees congregated along the over 2 km stretch from two ends and offered puja by wading into the waterbody with flowers and fruits in the afternoon hours.
The devotees came in processions, played loud music over DJ system, beat drums and burst crackers in the lake area before offering puja on lake water and the attending policemen did not prevent any of them. "We have collected video and still footages of the happenings. We will submit those evidences while filing a contempt of court petition within a week. We will make the Kolkata Improvement Trust a party to the petition," he said. The Kolkata Improvement Trust, the custodian of the lake, said boards had been put up on the lake premises informing people about the ban.
Environmentalist Subhas Datta, who had moved the NGT earlier against pollution to the lake due to functions and Chhath puja leading to the order, said it was the duty of the government agency which is looking after the lake, and Kolkata Police to enforce the NGT order strictly. Ghosh said NGT had directed the state to ensure no social gathering or puja was allowed even in the precincts of the lake. He said the bursting of crackers and playing loud music in the vicinity of the lake will impact the rich bio-diversity of the lake.
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