Mahakumbh: Uttarakhand braces for another Shahi Snan
Authorities in Haridwar said they were preparing for a massive surge of devotees for a “Shahi Snan” on Wednesday, which is likely to be one of the busiest days of the Mahakumbh, which has turned into major Covid outbreak concern as millions gather at the city’s ghats for a holy dip in the Ganga.
The last such Shahi Snan on Monday was marked by widespread violation of Covid-appropriate behaviour with most people not wearing masks and bunching close together. The Kumbh administration expects a crowd of at least 2.5 million on Wednesday, and has claimed all required arrangements have been made.
The Haridwar district police on Tuesday reported that it recorded only about 86,247 people who came with proper prior registration as required under Covid protocol, although the Mela administration said 3.1 million attended the event.
“On Monday during the second Shahi Snan, about 31 lakh people took the holy bath at Ganga ghat amid all our arrangements in place. We are expecting a crowd of at least 25 lakh (2.5 million) on Wednesday for the third Shahi Snan which would be most significant day in the month long Mahakumbh,” said state director general of police Ashok Kumar.
At least 184 people tested positive at the shahi snan on Monday.
“During the shahi snan, the health staffers tested 30,685 people by taking random samples... during which 184 tested positive. We are taking the required action as per the Covid-19 protocol,” said Haridwar chief medical officer Dr SK Jha.
On Tuesday, Uttarakhand recorded 1,925 new Covid-19 cases and 13 deaths, according to the HT dashboard. The state has, so far, recorded a total of 112,071 cases and 1,780 deaths.
National vice president of Indian Medical Association (IMA) Dr DD Chowdhury, who had termed the congregation of three million people in Monday’s Shahi Snan as the “greatest disaster” for the country on curbing the pandemic, said: “In order to do that, the Mela administration should at least ensure that all are wearing masks.”
Chief minister Tirath Singh Rawat on Tuesday said the government successfully organised a “safe and successful second shahi snan and will do same on Wednesday too”.