GUWAHATI: The State government must either withdraw or provide relaxation with respect to the SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) issued for celebration of Rongali Bihu this year, demanded the members of Bihu committees from across the State here on Sunday.
They added, "Controlling COVID-19 is not our job. Why is the administration passing on this onerous responsibility only to the Bihu-organizing committees?
Members of the prominent Rongali Bihu organizing committees of the State converged at the Latasil Field here on Sunday and carried out a sit-in demonstration against the SOPs which were issued by the State Government on April 9. The demonstration was held following the decision taken during a joint meeting of the 'Sadou Asom Bihu Sanmilani Samannayrakshi Samiti' and the 'Brihattar Guwahati Bihu Sanmilani Samannayrakshi Samiti' here on Saturday evening
Talking to the media on Sunday, the committee leaders said, "The State government is interfering in our activities. By issuing the SOPs, the government is bent on shifting responsibilities to check COVID-19 only on us."
The general secretary of 'Sadou Asom Bihu Sanmilani Samannayrakshi Samiti', Pranab Goswami stated, "The SOPs issued by the Health deparment is full of flaws. The government has issued the SOPs unilaterally. Prior to issuing the SOPs, none of the stakeholders were taken into confidence."
Goswami added, "A number of points in the SOPs are not at all acceptable to the Bihu committees. For example, one of the SOPs state that the Bihutolis must be sanitized twice daily. How is it possible for the Bihu committees to perform this COVID-related job? It has to be carried out by the Health department.
"Another SOP mandates that the Bihu committees must take prior permission from the district authorities. This is a strange rule. Never did we do so while celebrating our national festival. We used to simply inform the Police administration for maintaining the law-and-order situation at the respective Bihutolis during the celebration days."
Stating that "Almost 80% of our work is complete", Goswami posed, "Why is the State government trying to create confusion among the public by issuing the mandatory COVID-related SOPs only for us; and that too, at the last moment? Why were no such SOPs issued during the days when the poll campaigns were carried when there was open violation of such protocols across the State.
"With the issuance of the SOPs only for the Bihu committees, the government has put the ball solely in our court. If we hold the Bihu celebrations, the administration will blame us for spreading COVID-19.
"On the other hand, if we do not organize the Bihu celebrations the public will blame us for not holding the Bihu festivities even though 80% of the work was completed."
He further posed, "Why did the State government issue the mandatory COVID-related SOPs for the Bihu organising committees when hardly six days are left for the Bihu celebrations? The SOPs were issued on April 9 whereas Bihu celebrations will commence from April 14."