After holding meetings of Chhath Puja Samitis at his residence on Saturday, Bharatiya Janat Party (BJP) MP from Northeast Delhi Manoj Tiwari sought that the “festival be allowed on the river banks”.
Tiwari said the festival is about river bank cleaning and nothing harmful is immersed in the water.
“What we pour in the river is milk, cow milk or Gangajal. If cow milk is put in water, it decreases the percentage of impurities in it,” said Tiwari.
He said that the reason the Chhath festival is not allowed on the river bank is to hide the condition of the river from the people. The Chhath festival, which is popular in Bihar, eastern Uttar Pradesh, and Jharkhand, will be celebrated on October 30 and 31 this year.
The meeting of samiti by the MP was held a day after Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced that the AAP-led Delhi government has allocated Rs 25 crore for the Chhath Puja celebrations and made arrangements at 1,100 sites across the national capital.
“People could not celebrate any festivities for the last two years due to Covid and lockdown. But this year, the government has planned Chhath Puja on a big scale as things are getting back to normal. Before our government was formed, Chhath Puja celebrations were held on a small scale,” CM had said.
An NGT order from 2015 had said: “We hereby prohibit any person from throwing pooja material or any other material like, food-grain, oil, etc into River Yamuna, except on the designated site. Any person who is found disobeying this direction shall be liable to pay compensation of Rs. 5,000/- on the ‘Polluter Pays’ Principle.”
Chhath Puja is tied to politics in the capital – the festival is celebrated by Purvanchalis, who constitute over 30% of the city’s population.
People from Eastern UP and Bihar are believed to be in the majority in 16 of 70 Assembly seats in the capital, as per a survey earlier by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies. In a bid to woo voters, both the AAP-led Delhi government and BJP’s MCD leaders have spent large sums on Chhath ghat preparations in previous years.