Thousands of devotees forced themselves into Rabindra Sarobar in south Kolkata early on Sunday to perform Chhath Puja rituals again, flouting directives of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for the second time in 12 hours, even as 11 people were detained in connection with Saturday’s case.
An official of Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) said a case has been filed against unnamed persons at Lake police station and the KMDA will send a detailed report to the West Bengal government.
Meanwhile, a police officer said 11 people have been detained in connection with Saturday’s case. “An investigation is on,” said the officer.
In a rerun of Saturday developments, the devotees broke open the locks of the gates leading to the lake and trooped into the water body from 4 am to 7 am on Sunday to pay obeisance to the rising sun at the national lake, the KMDA official said.
“Our security guards were outnumbered. With not much police personnel around, the guards had to allow the devotees to get in. They offered pujas. Our conservancy staff have started clearing flowers, leaves and other leftover things from the water. It will be over in two-three days,” the official said.
Around 100 police personnel were deployed outside the gates of Rabindra Sarobar since Saturday afternoon, the KMDA official added.
The NGT, in a directive to the state government on October 14, had asked it to ensure that there is no violation of an earlier tribunal order, which banned any kind of ritual for Chhath Puja or other festivals in the Rabindra Sarobar. Spread over 192 acres, Rabindra Sarobar boasts of rich biodiversity.
Asked about Chhath Puja revellers flouting the NGT order at Rabindra Sarobar, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar said on the sidelines of an event here, the order has to be implemented and complied with. “It is painful to witness a court (NGT) order not being implemented properly. Always give respect to court orders and verdicts and make efforts to implement it. As far as I know, the NGT has asked the state chief secretary to make the government’s stand clear on this,” the Governor said.
TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee was quick to answer: “He is speaking like West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh. There will be no difference if you put Dilip Ghosh’s face on his photograph,” said the TMC leader.
Enviornmentalist Subhas Dutta said, he has got at least 100 picures of people moving inside the lake premises on Saturday and Sunday, offering puja at the water body despite the area being declared a prohibited zone for such festivities. “It will take lots of time to undo the damage caused to ecology and biodiversity in the lake area,” Dutta said.
Another environmentalist Somendra Nath Ghosh said puja material like vermilion, oil and fruits were strewn all over. “While the KMDA stopped entry of morning walkers since Friday midnight, they did little to prevent the Chhath revellers from entering the premises. Some of them danced to DJ music, drums and even burst firecrackers in water,” Ghosh said.
Veteran actor Soumitra Chatterjee said there should be awareness among people. “The administration must have taken full-proof measures to prevent such an incident,” Chatterjee said.
Sabita Rani, who was offering puja at the lake, asked, “Why should we go elsewhere?”
(With PTI inputs)