New Delhi: With Navratri and Durga Puja festivities on in full swing, Covid safety protocols are being blatantly violated across the country. With fears of an impending third wave, the Centre has warned that the next three months would be critical for India. The government has also launched the ‘Covid Mission 100 days’ urging people to not let their guard down.
Luv Agarwal, Joint Secretary in the Health Ministry, said, “The next 3 months are very important, very crucial for India. We cannot afford to let our guard down.”
Several temples and markets in Delhi witnessed a huge footfall during the Durga Puja festivities on Tuesday and Wednesday. Thousands visited the Kalkaji temple on Tuesday to offer prayers on Maha Saptami. Even though safety checks and social distancing had been mandated, the crowds seemed to give them a miss.
The priest at the temple, Ashish Bhardwaj, told NDTV that as Indians we tend to get excited. “By the blessings of Mata Rani, Covid cases are declining. But the large crowds that have turned up are more than what we had anticipated,” he said.
At Chittranranj Park, while pandals did not have a large number of devotees, the adjoining market areas witnessed massive crowds. Several rules were broken and hygiene was overlooked as people queued up for street food.
The stall owners, however, say footfall is low this year. Tapan Acharya, who runs a food stall of cutlets and kathi rolls in CR Park market told NDTV “There is no charm in pujo this year because of Covid. It’s very low-key this year and has impacted my businesses.”
The Centre is worried the low number of daily cases has given a false sense of confidence and could derail India’s effort to keep the third wave at bay.