The state government on Monday informed the Orissa High Court that reopening places of worship for devotees was not possible under the prevailing Covid-19 situation.
In a reply to a PIL filed by advocate Jayant Kumar Bal, who had challenged the decision of the state government to keep places of worship, including the Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri, closed till September 30, a law department official said in an affidavit before the Orissa High Court on Monday that it was not feasible to allow people to visit temples amid the increasing number of Coronavirus cases in the state.
"The relaxation of restrictions in other states may not be considered as relevant to the situation vis--vis Odisha," the official said. The Odisha government is in the best position to judge the Covid-19 situation in the state, the official added. There are thousands of temples across the state and every village has at least one temple. Deploying police personnel in all the temples will be extremely difficult at a time when the state police force is already overburdened with Covid-19 duties, the government’s affidavit pointed out. Maintaining social distance inside the temple premises will be very difficult as almost all the structures have narrow passages leading to the sanctum sanctorum, the statement read. However, the affidavit did add that despite the temples being closed, all rituals within the premises continue to take place.
The state government has allowed business establishments such as malls, fitness centers, gyms, and liquor shops to reopen as they are important to ensure the livelihood of the staff employed there, the court was informed.
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