Uttarakhand HC directs state govt to file affidavit on Covid-19 preparedness for Mahakumbh 2021
With a large number of pilgrims expected to participate in Mahakumbh 2021, Uttarakhand High Court has directed the state government to file an affidavit before it by December 2 regarding preparations and additional measures taken to check Covid-19 spread during Mahakumbh.
The court in its order stated, “In view of the Kumbh mela scheduled to be held on January 21, 2021, it is imperative that additional measures be strictly adopted by the state for the said purpose (checking spread of Covid-19). Hence, in this regard also, the state is directed to file an affidavit to inform the court as to the various measures that have been adopted, especially, for the purposes of the Kumbha mela, scheduled to be held in the year 2021”.
The court gave these directions while hearing a bunch of PILs on Wednesday. A copy of the order was made available on Thursday. The PILs have been filed by Sachdanand Dabral, Dushyant Mainali, and Rajendra Arya related to various issues regarding the fight against the Covid-19 epidemic in the state. The HC hears these PILs related to the Covid-19 situation in the state on every Wednesday.
Before the epidemic, over 12 crore pilgrims were expected to participate in the four-month-long Mahakumbh mela. However, given the epidemic is still on, authorities are not clear regarding the number of pilgrims who would turn up for the mega congregation now.
Uttarakhand has so far reported over 72,000 Covid-19 cases while the death toll stands at 1,185. Haridwar district, where the Kumbh is scheduled, has so far reported the second-highest number of Covid-19 cases in the state (11,914).
On September 23, the High Court had directed the state government to appoint monitoring committees in all 13 districts of the state to check the condition of treatment facilities for Covid-19 patients in the hospitals, quarantine centres and COVID care centres. The court had directed that these monitoring committees to apprise it about the situation in the state every week. The HC had given these directions while responding to the issue raised by advocate Shiv Bhatt, counsel of Sachdanand Dabral.
The schedule for various ritualistic events during Mahakumbh was released a few days ago. Officially, Mahakumbh will begin from January 1 and conclude on April 28. The first Shahi Snaan (royal dip) of Mahakumbh will be held on March 11 (Shivratri), second on April 12 (Somwati Amavasya) and the third on April 14 (Baisakhi Mesh Poornima).
On November 24, amid the surge in Covid-19 cases, the Uttarakhand government stated that it was planning to allow pilgrims to attend Mahakumbh only after undergoing a Covid-19 test. Chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, while reviewing the Mahakumbh preparations, said, “It is our responsibility to ensure that pilgrims are able to take holy bath safely amid this pandemic. For that, a mechanism should be made to allow only those pilgrims who have undergone a Covid-19 test and test negative”.
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