Mumbai, Nov 8 (IANS) Amid the clamour for reopening of temples in Maharashtra during the Unlockdown phases, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday indicated that places of worship – closed since mid-March – would be opened up after Diwali.
“People have been asking questions when will temples reopen? Yes, places of worship shall be opened, but let Diwali get over. We shall prepare comprehensive SOPs for the purpose,” Thackeray said in an address to the state this afternoon.
Admitting to a delay, he said it was on account of “precautions at each and steps” to ensure the state doesn’t return to the earlier (Covid-19) situation.
Thackeray said some people are blaming him for the delays and he was ready to take the blame for it, since it is a matter of people’s health and lives.
Since the past couple of months, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party has targeted the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi over keeping temples closed while permitting all other activities to restart.
With regular protests going on by the BJP, other groups and organisations, the issue became a huge controversy with a sharp exchange of words between Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and Thackeray, leading to Union Home Minister Amit Shah chiding the Governor.
Thackeray pointed out that many western countries are now hit by a second wave of Covid-19 and are going in prolonged periods of lockdown.
“We have to avoid it at any cost… Even though there is a flattening of the curve, we cannot afford to take chances,” he said, urging people to wear face masks or face penal action.
“If one Covid-19 positive person goes to a crowded public place, he/she could infect 400 persons. Imagine the multiplier effect of these 400. We have to come out of the crisis, not go back to the earlier situation,” Thackeray said.
He appealed to the people to celebrate Diwali safely – just as they did with Holi, Gokulashthami, Ganeshotsav, Dussehra, Eid, Navratri and other festivals – and refrain from bursting firecrackers as it will add to pollution levels and affect Covid patients.
“We considered a ban, but everything cannot be banned… I am confident that the people will cooperate with the government. The four days of Diwali will be crucial in the war against the virus, It is winter and the air pollution could increase because of the fireworks,” he warned, citing the example of Delhi.