Kolkata: The National Green Tribunal, East Zone, on Thursday allowed Chhath Puja rituals at Rabindra Sarovar, a 73-acre lake in south Kolkata, for this year following a plea by Kolkata Municipal Corporation and representatives of the Bihari community.
The NGT bench comprising Justice (retd) S P Wangdi and Professor P C Mishra directed that the rituals can be held at designated places by the lake which should be cordoned off so as to ensure that the water of the lake does not suffer from pollution owing to offerings like flowers, fruits and other materials.
The 30,000-odd devotees in the southern part of the city would be allowed to dip their feet in the water and offer water to the God as part of the rituals, the NGT bench said in an order applicable for this year only.
The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) moved the plea before the NGT following its earlier order banning Chhath Puja rituals at the Rabindra Sarobar Lake, which is part of National Lake Conservation Plan of Government of India, to prevent pollution of the lake and the surrounding manicured gardens and sprawling grounds.
The lake is home to several species of birds and migratory birds also.
KMC claimed that it would be difficult for the authorities to make alternative arrangements for around 30,000 devotees in such a short period of time as Chhath Puja is to be held on November six.
The rituals are held in two tranches, one at sunset and another at sunrise the next morning, wherein the Sun God is worshipped.
The NGT, however, directed that there should not be any bursting of crackers or use of loudspeakers.
It asked the Pollution Control Board to measure pollution levels in the air in the area before, during and after the riutals.
It also directed that video recording of the performance of rituals at Rabindra Sarobar be done and a compliance report of its orders be submitted alongwith the video recordings on November 29.
The NGT had on November one directed that Chhath Puja rituals would not be allowed at Rabindra Sarobar and put some restrictions throughout the state to prevent pollution of waterbodies.
The huge lake and the surrounding grounds are used for several sporting activities from rowing, swimming competitions to cricket, football and other activities.