COVID insurance for puja pandal labourers, electricians

According to the city's to puja organisers, including Badamtala Asahar Sangha, 66 Pally, Dum Dum Sarbojanin, the labourers, many of them residents of faraway districts, toil hard for three months to give set up the pandals, bedeck it with decor an...

PTI
Low-key celebrations will mark Durga puja this year, with the Calcutta High Court having declared all pandals no- entry zones for visitors, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bengal has more than 37,000 Durga Puja committees.
As the crisis caused by the pandemic continues to grow in West Bengal, several Durga puja committees in the metropolis have decided to provide COVID insurance to electricians and labourers, who have been engaged in setting up pandals and later dismantling them.

According to the city's to puja organisers, including Badamtala Asahar Sangha, 66 Pally, Dum Dum Sarbojanin, the labourers, many of them residents of faraway districts, toil hard for three months to give set up the pandals, bedeck it with decor and lights, with the committees making arrangements for their accommodation somewhere nearby.

"All puja plans have gone haywire amid the pandemic. In September, when it was decided that puja will be organised on a low scale, we initially had problems hiring labourers, as most of them had either left for their hometown or were unwilling to work due to the pandemic.


"That is when this idea of providing COVID insurance to labourers first struck... Most organisers in the city have provided insurance to the labourers," said Kajal Sarkar, the president of Forum for Durgostav -- an umbrella organisation representing the city's prominent pandals -- said.

Sandip Chakraborty of Badamtala Ashar Sangha in south Kolkata said the labourers, after dismantling the pandals, will have to undergo COVID-19 tests.

"If they test negative for the disease, they will be sent home. If any of them is found to have contacted the disease, the insurance will come handy," he maintained.
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According to the organisers at Dum Dum Sarbajanin, the insurance has been extended to several labourers and four electricians at their marquee.

"We had initially thought of providing insurance only to the labourers. Later, we decided to extend the facility to four electricians who have been working at our pandal," one of the organisers said.

Low-key celebrations will mark Durga puja this year, with the Calcutta High Court having declared all pandals no- entry zones for visitors, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bengal has more than 37,000 Durga Puja committees.
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