The Indian Medical Association’s Uttarakhand chapter had written to the state’s chief minister urging him to cancel the yatra
The Uttarakhand government cancelled this year’s Kanwar Yatra on Tuesday, a decision that came amidst warnings by experts that such events could fuel the spread of and should be avoided.
The move came after newly appointed chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami held a meeting with senior officials at the secretariat. The threats posed by the Delta Plus variant of the and a possible third wave, as well as learnings from across the world were on talks table, according to a government note.
“Giving top priority to saving human lines, it has been decided to halt the upcoming Kanwar Yatra,” the note said.
Earlier, the Indian Medical Association (IMA)’s Uttarakhand chapter wrote to CM Dhami, urging him to cancel the annual pilgrimage.
What is Kanwar Yatra?
The fortnight-long yatra begins with the onset of the month of Shravan (usually in the last week of July). As part of the yatra, crores of devotees, or kanwariyas, from neighbouring states such as Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Delhi and Himachal Pradesh gather in the holy city of Haridwar to collect the waters of the Ganga to offer at Shiva temples in their hometowns.
The yatra was cancelled last year too due to the first wave of . This year, on 2 July, Uttarakhand cancelled the yatra, but decided to review the order last week after Uttar Pradesh allowed the pilgrimage.
Experts issued warning
In its letter to the CM, IMA’s Uttarakhand chapter requested him to cancel the yatra, especially in view of a possible third wave.
“After the first wave, we went off-guard and did not follow the guidelines of the central government delineated for this pandemic which was a gross negligence on our part and consequently lost several of our kin in the second wave,” IMA state secretary Amit Khanna wrote.
“We request you to disallow the proposed Kanwar Yatra in July-August, 2021, as the third wave of Covid pandemic is ready to knock on the doors of this country according to several specialists,” Khanna said on behalf of the IMA in the letter.
Others too have cautioned against holding the yatra, saying it would be challenging to ensure that guidelines and protocols are abided by.
Anoop Nautiyal of the Social Development for Communities Foundation, a body which has been tracking the COVID situation in the state, told the Times of India, it will be impossible to implement guidelines in case the yatra was allowed.
“About 3 to 4 crore pilgrims will visit Haridwar in a fortnight compared with the 70 lakh that came during the 30-day Kumbh. The state will not be able to handle the infection spread post-Kanwar Yatra. A decision must be taken keeping in mind the third wave of ,” he said.
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