Chief Secretary directs officials to ensure strict compliance with the order, warns violators of prosecution under the law
Amid a sudden and sharp recurrence and increase in Covid-19 cases in Karnataka – with Bengaluru city almost certainly experiencing a second wave of the coronavirus – the state government has banned public observance of festivals like Ugadi, Holi, Shab- e-Barat and Good Friday.
Chief Secretary P Ravi Kumar issued an order to this effect on Thursday, directing all district Deputy Commissioners and the BBMP Commissioner to strictly implement the directive.
Kumar’s order begins by noting: “The State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) is satisfied that Karnataka is again under the threat of spread of the Covid-19 epidemic, which has already been reported as a pandemic by the World Health Organization, and has considered it necessary to take effective measures to prevent its spread in the state. SDMA has issued various orders/instructions from time to time to all authorities concerned to take all required measures to appropriately deal with the situation.”
Festival risk factor
The operative part of the order then says: “The situation of Covid-19 in Karnataka has been reviewed and it has been observed that there has been a persistent rise in Covid-19 cases in the last fortnight. It is anticipated that gatherings and public celebrations during upcoming festivals like Ugadi, Holi, Shab-e-Barat, Good Friday, etc., may pose a considerable threat of spread of the virus and may cause a setback to the appreciable gains made in the suppression of the chain of transmission of Covid-19 in Karnataka. Considering this, it has been decided that public celebrations and all gatherings/congregations during upcoming festivals should not be allowed in public places.”
The Chief Secretary’s order goes on to say: “Now, therefore, in exercise of powers conferred under Section 22 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, the undersigned in his capacity as Chairperson, State Executive Committee, SDMA, hereby directs the Commissioner, BBMP, Deputy Commissioners, and all authorities concerned to ensure that public gatherings and congregations during the upcoming religious festivals like Ugadi, Holi, Shab-e-Barat, Good Friday, etc. shall not be allowed in public places/public grounds/public parks/markets/religious places, etc. in the state of Karnataka.”
The Chief Secretary’s directive enjoins all the authorities concerned to ensure strict compliance with the order in letter and spirit, and adds that anyone found violating the order will be proceeded against under the Disaster Management Act, the IPC and the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Act.