Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a visit to his constituency Varanasi, on Thursday heaped praises on Uttar Pradesh’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis, calling it “unparalleled”.
Addressing a crowd at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) ground, PM Modi gave credit to chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s efficient handling of the pandemic, saying UP - which recorded over 30,000 new cases daily at the peak of the second wave, up from a record single-day high of 7,016 cases in the first - had “stood up and battled the virus efficiently", and that its management of the pandemic was “worthy of praise".
The prime minister also expressed his gratitude to healthcare and frontline workers of the state as he hailed UP for “the maximum number of vaccinations in the country".
“I am immensely thankful and grateful for all the ‘corona warriors’ and all those who have come and helped in these trying times. Today, UP has done the maximum vaccinations in the country. A vaccine for all… a free vaccine… is the aim of the government and it is being done," the PM said.
As he inaugurated various development projects worth over Rs 1,500 crore in Varanasi, including multi-level parking at Godaulia, Ro-Ro Vessels for tourism development and three-lane flyover bridge on the Varanasi-Ghazipur Highway, PM Modi said Kashi is becoming a large medical hub of Purvanchal. “Today facilities are being made available in Kashi too for diseases for the treatment of which one had to go to Delhi and Mumbai earlier,” he added.
The prime minister’s praise for the UP government comes just a day after the Supreme Court questioned the rationale behind the nod to Kanwar Yatra in the state even as neighbouring Uttarakhand called it off in view of the Covid-19 pandemic and a possible third wave.
The top court said Indian citizens were left “perplexed" by the state’s decision, particularly as it came after the Prime Minister’s call to avoid large gatherings and follow Covid-appropriate behaviour to ensure a third wave of infections does not strike.
On Tuesday, the UP government said the yatra could take place from July 25 with a “minimum number of people", and with “strict implementation of COVID-19 protocol". Negative RT-PCR tests could be made compulsory, if required, a state official was quoted by news agency PTI.
The Yogi Adityanath government also dominated headlines when bodies of suspected coronavirus patients were found floating in the Ganga River in May and June. After viral video on social media showed shrouds and bamboo sticks, used to mark burial sites, being removed in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj, the district administration had called for an inquiry into the matter.
The administration had earlier claimed that burials is not an uncommon practice in the Hindu religion as often mortal remains of children, unmarried women or those dying from snake bite are buried.