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Officials grapple with method to conduct Karthigai Deepam fest, decision soon: Collector
The raging COVID-19 pandemic and the Sec 144 being in force for its prevention have put the district officials at their wits end on how to conduct the 10-day Karthigai Deepam festival next month in the temple town, officials said.
A meeting chaired by Collector KS Kandasamy resulted in the latter placing before the temple and other department officials the issues involved in managing a crowd which on Deepam day will exceed 25 lakhs.
When the idea to test all those who come for the festival was mooted, Collector Kandasamy asked, “How many will you test when even those pulling the temple car number nearly 1,000? Also when the car moves through the main streets, public from houses dart in front to offer pooja and they cannot be stopped. How do we test such people?” Officials accepted that it was a gargantuan task given the numbers involved.
“Though the numbers inside the temple can be restricted on Deepam day, it will lead to issues when some VIP, if not allowed, creates problems,” an official added. Though it was suggested that the Deepam fest girivalam could be split into morning and evening sessions, with prospective participants being asked to register online and carry coloured ID cards, the question was “How do we treat those who come on their own without such passes,” a senior police official said.
“Though it was suggested that participants registering online be asked to undergo COVID-19 tests three days prior to the visit, the fact that 40 officials (who tested negative before the event) tested positive after the recent visit of Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami to Tiruvannamalai reveals that festive crowd could result in a spike in fresh COVID-19 cases,” officials averred.
Asked about this, Collector Kandasamy said, “I have placed the issues involved in the conduct of the festival before the concerned officials at Wednesday’s meeting and based on consensus a decision will be taken soon.”
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