Covid-19: In a first, duration of Haridwar's Kumbh Mela curtailed to one month
The duration of the 'Kumbh Mela' in Uttarakhand's Haridwar has been curtailed to just one month for the first time in its history in view of a recent surge in Covid-19 cases, news agency PTI reported on Thursday. Yesterday, the Uttarakhand government had made it mandatory for devotees to bring a negative RT-PCR report not older than 72 hours for attending the upcoming mega congregation.
The occasion usually lasts around three-and-a-half months. Its last edition was held in Haridwar from January 14 to April 28 in 2010. According to a new notification, the congregation on the banks of the Ganges in Haridwar in Uttarakhand will now take place from April 1 to 30, with three 'shahi snan' (major bathing) dates on April 12, 14 and 27.
The temple city of Haridwar is in the final stages of preparations to host the 'Kumbh Mela', which is slated to start from April 1. On the other hand, the Covid-19 cases in Uttarakhand, which lay low for a few months, are once again showing a rising trend of late. 200 new coronavirus infections were reported on Wednesday, of which the maximum were detected in Haridwar (71 cases). Dehradun, the state's winter capital, reported 63 cases, while as many as 22 cases were reported from Nainital, according to a Covid-19 control room bulletin.
The rising number of cases forms a cause of concern for the administration since thousands of devotees take a dip in the holy river during the mela, with their number increasing manifold on the days of 'shahi snan'. Authorities also expect heavy turnouts on the occasions of Chaitra Pratipada on April 13 and Ram Navami on April 21.
The Kumbh Kshetra (area) covers Neergarh, Tapovan, Bitthal Ashram Marg to Muni-Ki-Reti Road and Rishi-Haridwar bypass in the north; and Narendra Nagar-Rishikesh bypass, the forest check-post on Rishikesh-Dehradun Road, Rishikesh-Haridwar bypass, Mansa Devi, Billkeshwar Mandir, Tibri Mohand, BHEL residential buildings, Roorkee-Bahadarabad road and up to 13 km on Haridwar-Delhi road in the west. In the south, the congregation area will extend from Bahadarabad-Haridwar bypass to Siddha Sot Setu and from Siddha Sot Setu to Neelkanth Mahadev temple in the east.
Soon after taking over as the chief minister of Uttarakhand, Tirath Singh Rawat had said that it was not compulsory to bring a negative RT-PCR test report for devotees gathering for the Kumbh. It is a religious event that comes once in 12 years and devotees can attend it freely, he had said. However, he later ordered strict compliance with the guidelines issued by the central government in view of the surging positive cases.
(With inputs from PTI)