KOLKATA: Several organisations have joined hands for an initiative to make visits to Durga puja pandals of Kolkata more enjoyable to the differently-abled people and senior citizens maintaining Covid-19 protocols, those involved with the programme said.
An NGO, in collaboration with the apex body of community Durga Pujas in the city, a private hospital and the Rotary club, announced an award for the best environment created in a puja pandal for differently-abled and senior citizens in compliance with Covid protocols.
Around 350 puja committees, including several crowd-pulling ones, have enrolled their names in this initiative, said Debajyoti Roy, the secretary of NIP, the NGO, while announcing the award on Thursday.
"Every member of ours has been requested to comply with the Covid protocols as well as follow accessibility guidelines for free and easy movement of persons with disabilities and senior citizens," said Partha Ghosh, an executive committee member of Forum for Durgotsab, the apex platform of around 600 community pujas.
The jury team which will include medical personnel will wrap up the visit to the pandals by Mahasasthi, which heralds the four-day festival.
"There will be separate entrance and exit gates for the differently abled people and a ramp to reach the pandal. Wheelchairs will also be available. Besides, specially designed braille facility will be there for the visually impaired people to feel the interiors," said Arijit Moitra of Samajsebi Sangha which is taking part in the initiative.
On maintaining Covid protocols, he said there will be oxygen cylinders, pulse oximeters and ambulance in the pandal, apart from a 24x7 help desk manned by medical personnel to treat any emergency, he said.
On behalf of another participant Bhawanipore 75 Pally, Subir Das said there will be separate entrances and exits and wheelchairs for the differently-abled and elderly people.
He said there will also be a medical camp close to the pandal.
Welcoming the move, Saptak Adhikary, a youth with walking difficulty, said, "Most of the puja committees do not make provisions for people like us to move freely inside pandals. If such measures are taken, we can have darshan of the deity in a better manner."
The NIP secretary said many puja committees follow the required guidelines now.
"But this time, it is a challenge for all of them to maintain the proper atmosphere inside the pandal," Roy said.