Several Puja organizers are toying with the idea of using e-passes for crowd management at some of the biggest Pujas in the city after Kolkata Metro’s successful resumption of services using the same.
Anjan Ukil, in charge of the south zone of Forum for Durgotsab, an umbrella organization of some 35 Puja clubs in Kolkata, said, “Discussions are on for replicating Metro Railway’s system of e-passes. We are waiting for Thursday’s meeting with chief minister Mamata Banerjee to understand if it’s feasible.” Ukil, a member of Ballygunge Cultural Puja Committee, added, “Kolkata Police must give its assent suggestion as it will be in charge of crowd control.”
“The passes may be needed for peak hours. Pandal viewing usually starts around 6pm and goes on till 2am. The eight hours can be divided into slots,” said Partha Ghosh, general secretary, Shib Mandir Durga Puja. For the rest of the day, no pass would be needed.
Supriyo Chakraborty, general secretary, AE Part 1 Block Committee, said, “E-passes will be extremely useful. They will save the cost of printing VIP passes and minimize the risk of infection. People can download the digital passes with codes on their smartphones and display the same to enter the pandals.”
Asked if it could be done, Sanjay Chatterjee, whom the government had engaged to develop the Pathadisha Metro e-pass, said, “I guess so. We have the algorithm. We have to replace the Metro stations and the booking slots with the pandal-hopping peak slots.” Chatterjee added, “But Durga Puja is a festival and one must consider people’s sentiment before working on e-passes for pandal viewing. Those who don’t have passes shouldn’t feel deprived and one must be extremely cautious while developing a system that can address the sensitive issue.”