Clubs and associations that organise some of the most popular Durga Pujas in the city have responded to CM Mamata Banerjee’s call for action during the pandemic as they have slashed the puja budget and utilised the funds to take various initiatives to help Covid patients.
The top clubs that have puja budgets in excess of Rs 50 lakh usually finalise their plans months before the festival and pay theme artists and decorators in advance. Last year too, amidst the first wave of the pandemic, the popular puja committees had gone ahead with the plan and set up theme pandals. But with the Calcutta High Court restraining people from going pandal-hopping, the turnout at the pandals was poor.
Sensing that curbs could be even stricter this year with the pandemic infecting more people and claiming more lives in the second wave, the clubs have decided utilise the funds for social work instead of investing money in themes.
Some have arranged oxygen support for the needy, others are providing free meals and medicines while others have arranged free telemedicine for Covid patients with the help of the doctors residing in their localities and willing to provide their service online. Many other clubs like Bosepukur Sitala Mandir, Barisha Club, Mudiali Club and Behala Nutan Sangha are keen to join in the efforts but are waiting for the members, who are down with Covid, to get well so that they can work on a bigger initiative.
Jodhpur Park 95 Pally has set up a 50-bed safe home with free oxygen support facility. Ahiritola Jubak Brindra has bought five oxygen cylinders and is providing oxygen free to people experiencing breathing difficulty. Suruchi Sangha, too, is setting up an oxygen support facility. Members of Kashi Bose Lane Durga Puja Samity are converting a government school in north Kolkata to a safe home with an approval from the health department.
Forum for Durgotsav, a platform representing some of the leading puja organisers in the city, have launched Covid awareness drives in localities, particularly in markets that have in recent times witnessed crowding. The organisation is also distributing masks and sanitizers.
Encouraged by the actions of major clubs, even mid-budget and smaller clubs have joined the efforts in their own way with some organising an oxygen cylinder or oxygen concentrator to provide relief to those in need in their respective localities.
Source: Times of India