The government of Uttarakhand has so far decided to open the Char Dham yatra only to residents of the three districts where the shrines are located, hours after the high court reprimanded him for allowing the pilgrimage while ‘he feared that a third wave of Covid was around the corner.
The decision was taken by the state government at a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat on Friday. “From July 1, residents of three districts where the Char Dham shrines are located would be allowed to visit them. They should carry either the RT-PCR report … there would be a daily limit on the number of pilgrims allowed to visit the shrines. This would be decided in an SOP which will be published soon … ”said state government spokesman Subodh Uniyal.
“A special leader would also be appointed for each of the four shrines in coordination with the respective district administrations and the Char Dham Devasthanam board of directors to oversee the pilgrimage.” He added that all priests in four shrines would be vaccinated.
Earlier today, a bench by Chief Justice RS Chauhan and Judge Alok Verma urged the state to opt instead for the live broadcast of the ceremonies at the shrines of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamunotri and Gangotri.
“Perhaps the Char Dham Yatra needs to be postponed or canceled, as the Amarnath Yatra has already been canceled by the administration of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
“Considering the fact that a large gathering invariably leads to a peak in the Covid-19 pandemic, this tribunal is firmly convinced that a disaster like the Covid-19 pandemic should not be invited back by organizing and authorizing a large gathering in religious shrines, and authorizing the Char Dham yatra by the state, ”the High Court said.
The Char Dham yatra, which was scheduled to start on May 14, was postponed to April 29 due to the peak in Covid cases. On June 20, the state said the yatra would start from July 1 for local residents and pilgrims from other parts of the state from July 11.
“Already holding Kumbh Mela, and allowing a large congregation of lakhs of people on Ganga Dussehra at Har-ki-Pauri in Haridwar is clear evidence of the failure of civil administration … Once the faithful start to congregating in large numbers, invariably the first victim is the PCS itself; the second victims are people in general, ”said the judges.