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HC directs Govt to formulate policy before permitting Char Dham Yatra

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By Our Staff Reporter
Nainital/Dehradun, 16 Jun: The Uttarakhand High Court today stated that, in case the state government wished to open Char Dham Yatra for pilgrims, it would be required to take a policy decision in this regard and make adequate medical arrangements beforehand in view of the Corona pandemic. For the time being, the Court has stayed the Yatra till 22 June and has asked the government to file an affidavit by that date providing detailed information on the policy, the medical arrangements and the deployment of Police personnel.
Tourism & Religious Affairs Secretary Dilip Jawalkar has been asked by the High Court bench comprising Chief Justice Ravindra Singh Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma to file the affidavit in this regard. The next hearing in this case will now be held on 23 June.
It may be recalled that the Uttarakhand High Court is currently hearing some public interest petitions filed against the plan to start the Char Dham Yatra on the grounds that the government is ill prepared in respect of its health infrastructure and arrangements to deal with any possible spread of Corona. Also, in the SOP notification issued by the government under the signatures of Chief Secretary Om Prakash on 13 June, the government had permitted the Yatra for local residents of Utarakashi, Chamoli and Rudraprayag districts. At the same time, the government had made a negative RTPCR report mandatory for those undertaking the Yatra. However, given the fact that the High Court was hearing the PIL on this, the government itself took a U-turn and, even in the Court, it stated that the Char Dham Yatra remained suspended till 22 June. The Court too has stayed the original order of the government permitting the Yatra. The state and local administrations have started preparing for the Yatra as the government is well aware that, given the abatement of the second wave of Corona pandemic, it would ultimately begin though with lot of restrictions. The government has prepared the roadmap for the Yatra.
The Char Dham Yatra is major source of livelihood. At present, the High Court has postponed the decision to open the pilgrimage for lakhs of people from Uttarakhand living in Haridwar and Rishikesh, as also those living along the Char Dham Yatra routes. The government is under a lot of pressure from those associated with the Yatra to let it begin on a restricted level for the time being.
Meanwhile, Badrinath MLA and a member of the Devasthanam Board, Mahendra Bhatt today expressed the hope that Char Dham Yatra would begin soon. He added that the new guidelines are under preparation keeping in view the pandemic. The MLA said that the shopkeepers, tour operators, dhaba and restaurant owners and hoteliers are facing a lot of hardship due to postponement of the Yatra.