KOLKATA: Amid the COVID-19 crisis, authorities of all correctional homes in West Bengal have taken a series of precautionary measures and formulated a standard operating procedure to organise Durga Pujas in jails, an official said on Thursday.
The authorities have bought idols this year, instead of their regular practice of making them in correctional homes, to avoid gatherings of inmates there, he said.
"The SOP has made wearing of masks, maintaining physical distancing norms, and sanitization mandatory during the pujas. The guidelines have been sent to all the correctional homes in the state. Senior officers have been asked to monitor that the norms are followed by all the inmates as well as staffers posted there," the official said.
Durga Pujas are organized in almost all the 60 correctional homes in West Bengal.
"Inmates used to make the idols for several years, but this time we have bought them from outside to avoid gatherings. The idol-making process poses a risk of COVID-19 transmission," he said.
According to the official, prisoners, who used to make idols, have been engaged to generate awareness about health safety protocols.
"Areas have been segregated on the jail premises to perform various rituals of the puja while maintaining social distancing norms. We have asked officials to earmark a separate place where 'bhog' will be prepared," he said.
The West Bengal government had released around 12,000 inmates on bail or parole to decongest correctional homes in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
They had started returning to their respective correctional homes since mid-September as per instructions of the government.