BHUBANESWAR/CUTTACK: Even as the 10-day night curfew will come into force in the Twin City from Monday, ensuring compliance to Covid appropriate behaviour by the Dussehra revellers has become a major challenge for both the civic bodies and police.
Ahead of Sasthi, which marks the beginning of Durga Puja, markets in both Bhubaneswar and Cuttack were chock-a-block as people crammed shops to make festive purchases. All malls and markets saw large gatherings with people violating social distancing and mask rules.
In Cuttack, markets at Choudhury Bazaar, Nandi Sahi, Pithapur, Buxi Bazaar, Mangalabag, Ranihat and Badambadi witnessed huge rush since morning. Similarly, shopping malls at Bajrakabati road, Badambadi, Dargha Bazaar and Chauliaganj remained crowded on the day.
Social distancing norms went for a toss and a large number of people were found moving around without face masks, exposing the laxity of Commissionerate police and Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) in ensuring adherence to guidelines.
Situation was no different in Bhubaneswar where puja is being celebrated at 165 pandals and mandaps. The city has been witnessing 150-200 cases on a daily basis for the last three days.
The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) has urged people to refrain from visiting Durga Puja pandals to prevent spread of Covid-19.
The civic body also warned the puja committees as well as commercial establishments of heavy penalties in case the government’s directive is violated.
Additional Commissioner of BMC Laxmikanta Sethi said as many as 13 enforcement teams comprising staff of the civic body, the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) and Commissionerate police will conduct surprise checks at pandals, malls and markets at all three zones of the city.
Sethi said the enforcement teams will work in two shifts during the evening. Sources said while the night curfew which will start from 8 pm and end at 5 am till October 20 is expected to prevent crowding at markets during evenings to some extent, enforcement needs to be intensified from 5 pm to 8 pm to prevent large gatherings.
While DCP Prateek Singh could not be contacted, CMC Commissioner Ananya Das assured the civic body’s enforcement wing would maintain vigil to ensure adherence to norms during the festival.