West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday urged pilgrims visiting Gangasagar Mela to strictly follow COVID-19 guidelines and asked her administration not to send too many people to Sagar Island for the annual fair.
She requested the pilgrims not to overcrowd the vehicles to reach Sagar Island in South 24 Parganas, wear double masks and cooperate with the administration, and seek police's help if needed.
"I request the administration not to send too many people to Gangasagar Mela. I urge the pilgrims not to overcrowd vehicles to reach Sagar Island," she said while inaugurating the fair at Outram Ghat here.
"I welcome the pilgrims coming to West Bengal from other states and request them to wear double masks and strictly follow the COVID-19 guidelines," she added.
A Calcutta High Court division bench comprising Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Kesong Doma Bhutia allowed the annual fair to take place from January 8 and 16, and ordered that the entire Sagar Island be declared a notified area.
The bench also constituted a two-member committee comprising former Justice Samapti Chatterjee and member secretary of the West Bengal Legal Services Authority to recommend the state government to ban the entry of pilgrims to the island in case of violation of safety norms.
The bench ordered that all pilgrims must be fully vaccinated and should test negative for COVID-19 in an RT-PCR test conducted within 72 hours before reaching the venue.
Gangasagar Mela, which is one of the largest religious congregations in eastern India, attracts several lakhs of people who take a holy dip at the confluence of Ganga and Bay of Bengal and offer prayers at the Kapil Muni temple on Makar Sankranti.
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