Published: 13th October 2020
This COVID support society will give awards to WB Durga Puja committees who maintain safety measures the best
The awards will be given to one winner in each of the 10 districts across Bengal where CCN is present, said Satyarup Siddhanta, a pivotal member of the society
Awards for best pandal, best idol sculpture, best design or best theme concept is common for any Durga Puja — while the trend started in Kolkata, it has now spread across the world wherever you can find Bengalis. But the new normal has added to that list — the COVID Care Network (CCN) in West Bengal has come up with an award for the puja organisers who will maintain safety measures the best during the puja days.
The awards will be given to puja organisers across 10 districts in Bengal, said Satyarup Siddhanta, a pivotal member of the society. "What seemed very interesting to me was that the organisers were equally excited about this. They even asked us to come and spread awareness about COVID and how to stay safe," he said. "We have asked for help from the police force. We will set up our kiosks next to their booths at the pandals and also use their loudspeakers to spread awareness but there is no official collaboration," he added.
The CCN has been spreading awareness about COVID and safety measures for months now along with providing on-ground support like ambulances and last-mile help to even remote areas. Satyarup and three others from the CCN society — Rudra Prasad Halder, Avik Mondal and Soumyadeep Mondal — took a 720 km cycling trip to Purulia's Ayodhya Hills and back. This trip made them realise how little people know about COVID. The most common consensus was 'COVID won't happen to me'. "When you ask them why so, they have no answer. When we left we had no idea that the awareness is so low. We came across markets, local football matches where people had come in hundreds but only a handful were wearing masks and most of them were not wearing it properly. We stopped and spoke to them wherever we saw some people who seemed reasonable and tried to make them understand how the virus spreads and how deadly it is," said Satyarup as he shared a slew of stories.
The plan was to organise an awareness program on top of the hills but their COVID awareness began once they left Kolkata last month. "The hills become tourist spots at this time and its easy to reach — you can just drive there. With the tourist pressure increasing it will be a mess. Till now there haven't been too many cases but unless there's change on the behavioural level, there is not going to be any change. We have asked our members in the districts to go out and reiterate what we had said a few weeks ago regularly. The basics would do but you can't bring about this kind of change in just one day's lessons. You need to keep telling them and only then wearing masks will be a habit and so will washing hands and maintaining hygiene," he added.