CUTTACK: With the administration focusing on Cuttack city’s puja pandals, absence of enforcement in rural areas of the district poses a grave threat of rise in number of Covid cases in the coming days.
The apathy of the administration towards enforcing Covid guidelines can be gauged by the fact that only six platoons of police force have been deployed in rural areas of the district.
The personnel are responsible for not only maintaining law and order but also enforcing the norms at pandals and markets. Amid shortage of manpower, the SP (Rural) is on leave due to illness.
Similarly, of the two posts of Additional SP, one is lying vacant after the officer was transferred to Commissionerate Police in Bhubaneswar. The sole Additional SP, Alekh Chandra Pahi is at present the in-charge SP (Rural).
What’s worse is that amid the crisis, 14 personnel from Cuttack rural police have been engaged in puja duty with the Commissionerate Police.
A police officer said under these circumstances, it will be tough for the police to maintain law and order and carry out enforcement.
Pahi, however said enforcement would not be an issue during the festival as besides the six platoons of police force, all staff of local police stations including home guards have been deployed on puja duty. This apart, two executive magistrates have been deployed to supervise the enforcement activities.
But the reality on the ground is different. A local said most pandals in villages do not adhere to the norms and devotees are thronging them as usual defying guidelines. On the second day of the festival, rush was witnessed at the pandals and it will only go up on Ashtami (Wednesday).
This year as many as 336 pandals have been erected across the district. The highest 45 pandals have been set up at Kissan Nagar followed by 34 at Govindpur, 33 each in Athagarh and Tangi, 27 each in Salepur, Kanpur and Banki, 24 at Khuntuni, 19 at Nischintkoili, 17 at Mahanga, 15 in Nemalo, 12 in Niali, eight in Baideswar, six in Tigiria, five in Narasinghpur and two each at Gurudijhatia and Olatpur.