This Chhath can be the primary time in 20 years when Delhi-based businessman Shashi Kaushik didn’t go dwelling to Bihar. For his household of 4, that features two youngsters, trains and buses had been unsafe with the pandemic is tightening its grip on the capital, and flights had been too pricey. Driving all the way down to Bihar was the one possible possibility he had, however he couldn’t muster the braveness for the lengthy journey.
“My brother drove dwelling together with his household, however I remorse not being dwelling for Chhath,” mentioned Kaushik, 45.
“The festive fervour seen at railway stations throughout the earlier Chhaths was on the freeway this time. There have been so many vehicles heading to Bihar and Jharkhand,” mentioned Ritesh Shekhar, who drove to his dwelling in Gaya.
The trains and buses plying to those areas did see a lowered rush this Chhath season, mentioned stakeholders.
Deepak Kumar, spokesperson for Northern Railway, mentioned the variety of passengers in search of practice tickets for Bihar and japanese states this time had been fewer and he attributed this to the pandemic and folks’s issues about social distancing.
One other railways officer, who didn’t need to be recognized, pegged the lower at virtually 40% when in comparison with final yr, however HT couldn’t independently confirm this.
Buses to Bihar too noticed a lower in passengers. GS Yadav, who runs the Jai Mata Di Travels and operates buses from Delhi to Bihar, mentioned the variety of passengers have dipped by 20% in comparison with the Chhath final yr.
However adequate preparations had been in place to cater to the festive rush, insisted the railways spokesperson. “To cater to the frenzy, we deliberate over 1,000 practice journeys from Delhi to the Northern states since October 15 to November 30. For Chhath alone, we ran round 700 practice journeys throughout the festive interval from November eight to 20,” mentioned Kumar, including that quite a lot of particular trains had been launched to cater to the rise in demand.
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“These with wait-listed tickets will not be being allowed on trains as now we have to make sure one seat is only for one passenger,” mentioned Kumar.
However passengers had extra issues even then. Chanda, who managed to discover a berth on a practice to Katihar, mentioned that she needed to make compromises to make sure her security. “I didn’t use the bathroom throughout the 21-hour journey,” mentioned the lady.
Bus operators mentioned that although there was a dip within the total variety of passengers this season, they needed to flip away many. “To make sure social distancing, we allowed just one passenger each two seats. So, lots of these ready at bus stops with out a confirmed ticket had been turned away,” mentioned Anand Sharma, who operates buses from Delhi to Bihar.
“There could have been separate seats for every passengers, however bathrooms are shared by many throughout a protracted journey. It wasn’t a threat I used to be prepared to take,” mentioned Satyendra Sinha, an advocate who drove 1,200km to Banka in Bihar.
Dipak Jha, a Delhi-based journalist, mentioned he discovered travelling by automotive to his dwelling in Jamshedpur the most secure for his household of 4. “We solely obtained out of the automotive throughout the 24-hour journey to make use of bathrooms. We even carried our personal meals. This ensured that we infrequently uncovered ourselves throughout the journey,” mentioned Jha.
And as Jha drove on, he realised that he wasn’t alone on the journey. “One five-seater automotive had eight occupants stuffed inside. That’s how determined folks had been to get dwelling for Chhath,” mentioned Jha.
HC upholds celebration ban
In the meantime, the Delhi excessive court docket on Wednesday refused to entertain a plea which had challenged the Delhi Catastrophe Administration Authority’s (DDMA) choice of banning Chhath Puja celebrations at public locations within the metropolis as a result of Covid-19 pandemic.
Whereas dismissing the plea, a bench of justice Hima Kohli and justice Subramonium Prasad, remarked that “it seems the petitioner will not be alive to Covid-19 state of affairs in Delhi” and “any such permission if granted would essentially lead to such perform turning into a brilliant spreader”.
Mayor writes to L-G for Chhath celebrations
Bharatiya Janata Social gathering (BJP)-ruled North Delhi Municipal Company mayor Jai Prakash on Wednesday wrote letters to lieutenant governor Anil Baijal and chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and request them to rethink their choice to ban Chhath Puja at public locations in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. He mentioned that he had request them to permit the puja with sure riders and tips.
“I’ve written letters to the CM and the L-G and requested them to not ban celebrations of Chhat Puja at public locations within the metropolis. Puja shouldn’t be fully banned as a substitute particular preparations needs to be made to organise it,” the mayor mentioned.
Police points advisory
Delhi Police Wednesday mentioned they’ve held conferences with completely different organisers and residents urging them to keep away from public locations and comply with social distancing guidelines whereas celebrating Chhath Puja.
In a press assertion, police mentioned they’ve additionally sensitised their personnel whereas coping with residents.
“All station home officers have been informed to carry conferences with puja committees and guarantee there’s strict compliance. Residents are suggested to rejoice the competition at their houses throughout the pandemic,”mentioned a police spokesperson.