Bhubaneswar: In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Khandagiri Mela in Bhubaneswar will not be held this year.
In a notification issued on Tuesday, Commissioner of the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) Prem Chandra Chaudhary said as the government has stipulated organisation of such fairs subject to conditions of adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols, a coordination committee meeting was held on February 2 to invite proposals from the Jatra committees to explore the possibility of holding the Mela.
While some Jatra committee members had submitted proposals and undertaking to abide by the COVID-19 safety protocols and suggested that they will erect the opera pandals and stalls from Jagamara Melana Padia to Khandagiri Hill and from Khandagiri Hill Sauchalaya to Sibananda School, there was a representation from an organisation not to allow holding the Mela in view of the pandemic, he said.
However, during a field study, it was observed that due to the ongoing expansion work of NH-5, the road being used has become extremely narrow. It was felt that there will be serious traffic and law and order due to the congregation of a large number of people and no space to accommodate the temporary stalls.
“Due to the assembly of a large number of people in the Mela, it is apprehended that maintenance of social distancing as per COVID-19 safety protocol will not be possible which will endanger public safety. Taking this into consideration, it has been decided that the Mela will not be held for this year in the city,” the BMC Commissioner said.
However, he said the usual rituals being observed in relation to Magha Saptami may be done with strict adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols.