The Uttarakhand High Court has asked the state government to publish the standard operating procedures for the forthcoming Chardham yatra in view of the rising COVID-19 cases, observing that the pilgrimage cannot be allowed to turn into another Kumbh.
Chief Justice RS Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma of the high court made the observation during the virtual hearing of a batch of PILs related to the state government’s handling of the pandemic on Tuesday.
The yatra is slated to start from May 14.
COVID-19 norms were openly flouted during the Haridwar Kumbh Mela. A majority of the 48.51 lakh people who took part in the last two royal baths (shahi snan) held on the occasion of Somwati Amavasya on April 12 and Mesh Sankranti on April 14 were seen without masks and did not maintain social distancing.
The court also directed the state government to step up COVID-19 testing by deploying mobile vans in interior regions and increase the number of COVID hospitals besides supplying adequate PPE kits and other safety equipment to health workers.
The high court directed the state government to take the help of central agencies to build temporary hospitals and admit patients suffering from coronavirus.
The court also said that government hospitals must be equipped with CT Scan machines and 25 per cent of the beds in private hospitals be reserved for people holding BPL cards.
The court enquired about availability of vaccines and Remdesivir injection in the state. The state has also been directed to publish information of all hospitals and vaccination centres online for easy access.
The HC has directed secretary (health and finance) Amit Negi to file a detailed report on all these issues before the next date of hearing on May 10 and be personally present in court.