By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 24 Mar: After intervention of the Uttarakhand High Court, the government has now made it mandatory to bring a negative Covid-19 test report for the pilgrims intending to come to Haridwar for the Mahakumbh. The orders to this effect were today issued by Chief Secretary Om Prakash.
In a statement issued to the media, after his video conference in this regard with the High Court, Om Prakash stated that pilgrims coming to the Haridwar Kumbh this year would have to bring a negative Covid-19 test report with them having been issued within the past 72 hours. He added that, in addition to bringing the Covid-19 test report, the pilgrims would also have to strictly adhere to the Covid SOPs and guidelines. Those having been vaccinated against Corona infection would, however, not be required to produce a negative Covid-19 test report, but they would be required to produce a certificate of vaccination.
This means that those wishing to come to the Kumbh need to produce one of these two documents.
Om Prakash said that the guidelines of the state and centre would be strictly followed by the administration during Kumbh. He said that fresh SOPs regarding the Kumbh would be issued shortly in view of the new mandate in the wake of rising cases of Corona in the country.
The court also ordered that Chief Secretary Om Prakash and Secretary, Health, Amit Negi would have to stay in Haridwar during the Kumbh for three days to monitor the arrangements.
It may be recalled that, earlier, very strict guidelines regarding Kumbh were issued by the state government, also, mandating a negative Covid-19 RTPCR test report, when Trivendra Singh Rawat was the chief minister. However, soon after Tirath Singh Rawat taking over as the CM, the government relaxed the rules. The CM had stated that it was not necessary for those coming to Kumbh to bring a negative Covid RTPCR test report but would have to follow the guidelines and SOPs. Former CM Trivendra Singh Rawat had expressed concern over relaxation of guidelines. Ironically, soon after a visit to Haridwar and meeting the religious leaders there, CM Tirath Singh Rawat himself tested positive for Covid-19 infection.
Not only this, soon after Tirath Singh’s statement went viral, the Centre too had expressed apprehensions of Corona spread due to the Kumbh, forcing the state to start reconsidering its position. The High Court took cognisance of the issue and issued its directions to the state government today.
Chief Secretary Om Prakash stated further that Covid tests were being done as per the guidelines of the Indian Council of Medical Research and the state would soon increase the number of tests according to its capacity. Every day, 50 thousand rapid antigen tests and 5,000 RTPCR tests were being conducted in the state. He added that the state government would soon increase the number of tests per day.
Three Shahi Snans are still to be held at Kumbh this season and it may be recalled that millions of pilgrims visit Haridwar during each Shahi Snan. In such a situation, arrangements need to be tightened up further. It may be recalled that 200 fresh cases of Covid-19 positive were detected today in the state.