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Sisodia seeks guidelines from Union Health Minister

Move comes after strong protest against Delhi govt. ban on Chhath Puja festivities

Amid clamour from the Delhi BJP and the Delhi Congress to allow Chhath Puja celebrations in the Capital, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Tuesday wrote to Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya to issue guidelines on the conduct of the festival.

The Delhi Disaster Management Authority, in an order on September 30, had prohibited Chhath at riverbanks, waterbodies and other public places in view of COVID-19.

Mr. Sisodia, in his letter, requested the Minister to consult health experts and issue guidelines so that all devotees from north India can celebrate the festival keeping their safety in mind.

Mr. Sisodia, while demanding a lift on the ban, said the people of Purvanchal are eagerly waiting to celebrate Chhath with their family and loved ones like every year; therefore, the Central government should allow the celebration.

“For the last 18 months, Delhi as well as the entire nation has had to bear with the situation arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year too, in view of COVID-19, decisions on the celebration of Chhath across the country were taken as per the instructions of the Centre,” he said.

Mr. Sisodia further said that ever since the Aam Aadmi Party came to power, the Delhi government has been making special arrangements for the people of Purvanchal to celebrate Chhath Puja and has increased the number of ghats from 72 to more than 1,200 all over the city.

‘Dislike for Poorvanchalis’

Meanwhile, the Delhi Congress alleged that Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had an antipathy towards the people of Poorvanchal.

Delhi Congress Chief Ch. Anil Kumar said there had been an anti-Poorvanchali attitude during the lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 when the government provided no help to lakhs of Poorvanchalis who fled the city on foot to their villages. They were rendered jobless and were without any source of livelihood and the government provided no help, either financially or materially, to them, he said. “When permission could be given to open liquor shops and movie halls, hold marriages, Ramlila and Durga Puja festivals, why Chhath Puja has been banned? The Delhi government can increase the Chhath ghats and impose strict COVID-19 guidelines while giving permission to hold Chhath Puja. But banning is not the answer,” Mr. Kumar said.

He added that the Delhi government held Deepavali festivities at a staggering cost of ₹6 crore last year, and it could make an open display of the Ganesh Chaturthi Puja this year, but withholds permission for the festivals of other communities.

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