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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Ensure Kumbh does not turn into Covid breeding ground: Uttarakhand HC

The court has also said that the state government must insist that no pilgrim/visitor would be allowed to enter Haridwar and Rishikesh Kumbh Mela area without a medical certificate indicating that he/she is not Covid- positive.

Written by Lalmani Verma | Dehradun |
March 25, 2021 4:20:44 am
At Kumbh, AI-equipped cameras to zoom in on those without masksOver 32 lakh devotees had turned up in Haridwar for the first shahi snan on Mahashivratri on March 11, and the crowd is expected to rise for the upcoming shahi snans on April 12, 14 and 27. (Express Photo by Praveen Khanna)

The Uttarakhand High Court on Wednesday directed the state government to ensure SOPs issued by authorities are strictly implemented so that the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar does not turn into a breeding ground for the spread of Covid-19.

The court has also said that the state government must insist that no pilgrim/visitor would be allowed to enter Haridwar and Rishikesh Kumbh Mela area without a medical certificate indicating that he/she is not Covid- positive.

A bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma issued the directives while hearing a bunch of five PILs related to the spread of Covid-19 and the arrangements made by the state in this regard.

The bench said in its order that alarm bells are ringing in some parts of the country that the pandemic is again raising its head. Some southern and northern states, like Rajasthan, have started imposing partial lockdown, it said. “This is a clear indication that we are again entering the phase where the country will face the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, the state government is expected to be vigilant and to ensure that the Mahakumbh mela does not turn into the breeding ground for the spread of Covid-19 pandemic,” reads the order.

The court directed that people be deputed at the entry point of each ghat for thermal screening of visitors and to ensure they are wearing masks.

It directed that at strategic places near the ghats or in the Mela area, a sufficient number of kiosks should be set up for accommodating doctors and nurses. Also, it said, facilities for vaccinating pilgrims should be created so that, if necessary, senior citizens can be vaccinated while they are visiting the Mela.

According to the order, Chief Secretary Om Prakash has given an undertaking before the court that SOPs issued by the central and state governments will be strictly complied with and the state government will insist that pilgrims coming from every corner of the country would be required to bring a medical certificate clearly indicating therein that they are not Covid-19 positive. The certificates would have to be issued within 72 hours prior to their arrival in the state.

The court issued the directives after going through two reports submitted by Shiv Bhatt, counsel for the petitioner and Shivani Pasbola, Secretary, District Legal Services Authority, Haridwar.

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