Char Dham Yatra cannot become 'another Kumbh Mela', says Uttarakhand HC, tells state to issue SOPs
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
Nainital: 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 on 14 May.
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 12 April and Mesh Sankranti on 14 April 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 percent of the beds in private hospitals be reserved for people holding BPL cards.
The court inquired about the 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.
With the exception of the Winter Olympics — held in a virus-secure, closed-loop Beijing bubble — China has cancelled or postponed almost all events since Covid emerged in Wuhan in late 2019.
The active cases comprise 0.05 per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate was recorded at 98.74 per cent, the ministry said.