While Centre Urges People to Follow Protocol, Stop Covid Burst, UP Govt Plans Diwali Melas in all Cities

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© Provided by News18 While Centre Urges People to Follow Protocol, Stop Covid Burst, UP Govt Plans Diwali Melas in all Cities

The Centre is cautioning people against assembling in large numbers in this festive season with the Covid threat still prevailing, but in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, the state government has decided to hold weeklong Diwali Melas in all cities. These fairs, as per the state government communique accessed by News18, besides seeing the sale of festive goods will also have activities like magic shows, dramas, puppet dances, food stalls, performances and LED screens depicting achievements of the Yogi Adityanath government in the last four-and-a-half years. UP urban development minister Ashutosh Tandon held a review meeting on Tuesday regarding the organisation of the fairs and directed that they be made “attractive with both entertainment and cultural programmes” as well as laser shows.

ALSO READ | Singapore Announces Crowd Control Measures for ‘Little India’ Ahead of Diwali

‘Don’t make virus happy’

These Diwali Melas will start on October 28 and continue until November 4. On Tuesday, in an interview with News18, India’s Covid task force chief VK Paul said people need to be very responsible during the festival season. “Crowds are bad, large gatherings are bad, crowds in the markets are bad…the virus loves these things. Please don’t make the virus happy by creating these situations and therefore don’t lower your guard. Let’s do this for the next 100 days and if we continue to suppress the virus and not see an upsurge, we could see a new dawn,” Paul told News18.

The UP government in a statement said minister Ashutosh Tandon has directed for “all arrangements to be made at the Diwali Mela venues regarding the Covid safety protocol”. Instructions have been issued that all people coming to the fairs wear masks and adequate hand sanitisers are placed at the venues and the grounds should also be regularly sanitised. It is, however, unclear how social distancing norms will be enforced at the fairs that could be thronged by people in the week leading up to Diwali.

The plan

Tandon’s directives, meanwhile, specify that attractive rides and swings be arranged for children at these fairs, food stalls put up and arrangements made for people to take “selfies with great leaders” (cut-outs) as well as a dedicated help desk for beneficiaries of the PM SVANidhi Scheme to empower street vendors and by banks about digital payments. The order issued by the state government says these Diwali Melas would help in increasing the income of the hawkers by giving them a platform for sale. Open grounds are being identified in all cities. Cultural programmes will be held at the fairs for the first three days.

ALSO READ | EXCLUSIVE | Coming to Ayodhya on Diwali This Year, A 500-Drone Aerial Show to Showcase Lord Ram’s Story

A committee is being formed in each city comprising the district police chief and chief medical officer among others to organise these Diwali Melas. The committees will start holding meetings from October 16, identify the venues by October 17, and complete all other arrangements by October 22.

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