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'Char Dham Yatra cannot be allowed to turn into another Kumbh': HC frowns as Uttarakhand yet to prepare SoP


DEHRADUN: Officials of the Uttarakhand government have said every necessary precaution will be taken and guidelines will be issued soon for the upcoming Char Dham Yatra, after the Uttarakhand High Court said that the event cannot be allowed to turn into another ‘Kumbh’.

Issuing a number of directions on Tuesday while hearing a PIL regarding Covid situation in the state, the court asked the government to issue guidelines for the Yatra scheduled to start on May 14.

The recent Kumbhmela was attended by millions and recorded thousands of positive tests amid uncontrollable scenes.

Ravinath Raman, chairman of Char Dham Devsthanam Board which manages the Yatra, said: “The guidelines will be issued soon. We are assessing the Covid situation and decision will be taken accordingly.”

Earlier, state Tourism Minister Satpal Maharaj had made negative RT-PCR reports mandatory for the Yatra.

“Guidelines will be issued soon,” said the minister.

The SOPs will include many conditions to visit the four shrines at Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamunotri and Gangotri. There was a fall in the number of pilgrims last year.  After 38 lakh in 2019, only 4.2 lakh visited the temples in 2020. The state government is likely to put a limit to the number of pilgrims visiting every shrine on a day.

The state recorded its highest single-day surge in COVID-19 cases on Wednesday with 4,807 people testing positive for the viral disease.

The state registered a nearly-60-per cent jump in fresh COVID cases from Tuesday's 3,012, which was the previous record.

With the fresh cases, the COVID-19 tally of Uttarakhand has climbed to 1,34,012, the state COVID control room here said.

The disease claimed 34 more lives on Wednesday, pushing the state's death toll to 1,953, it said.

Dehradun district was the biggest contributor to the tally, recording the highest number of 1,876 cases, followed by Nainital (818), Haridwar (786), Udham Singh Nagar (602), Pauri (217) and Tehri (185), it said.

Almora (99), Uttarkashi (75), Chamoli (61) and Rudraprayag (52) were the other districts to report a large number of cases.

There are 24,893 active COVID-19 cases in the state currently and 1,04,527 patients have recovered from the disease.

(With PTI Inputs)