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Linking Kumbh, Markaz Amid Rapid Virus Spread Unsettles U'khand CM, Says 'Happens in 12 Yrs, Can't Ignore'

Devotees gather to offer prayers during Ganga aarti at Kumbh Mela, at Har ki Pouri, in Haridwar, Tuesday. (PTI)

Devotees gather to offer prayers during Ganga aarti at Kumbh Mela, at Har ki Pouri, in Haridwar, Tuesday. (PTI)

Citing other differences between the Kumbh Mela and Nizamuddin Markaz, Rawat said, "The devotees attending Kumbh are not from outside but our own people."

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat on Tuesday said the ongoing Kumbh Mela in Haridwar should not be compared with the Nizamuddin Markaz which was held in a closed space and attended even by foreigners. "There should be no comparison between Kumbh and Markaz. The Markaz was held in a closed space, in a kothi-like structure, whereas the Kumbh is being held in the open on the sprawling ghats of the Ganga," Rawat said on a weekly talk show organised by the Hindustan Times. The chief minister was replying to a question as to why the two religious events should not be equated (Nizamuddin Markaz and Kumbh) as Kumbh also draws crowds and could strengthen the second wave of the coronavirus infection. Citing other differences between the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar and Nizamuddin Markaz, Rawat said, "The devotees attending Kumbh are not from outside but our own people.

Moreover, when the Markaz was held there was not much awareness about coronavirus nor were there any guidelines. No one knew for how long the attendees of the Markaz had remained in the confines of the structure, he said. Now there is more awareness both about COVID-19 and the guidelines related to it," the chief minister added. He also said Kumbh comes once in 12 years and is linked with the faith and sentiments of millions of people.

"Holding it successfully amid the challenge posed by Covid-19 by ensuring that the SOP is strictly followed by all is our goal," he said. Rawat said people's health is a priority but matters of faith cannot be totally ignored. "Cases have of course risen of late but we are following the health ministry guidelines and the recovery rate is good. Arrangements are also adequate to deal with any situation," he said. Largescale arrangements of masks and sanitisers have been made in the Mela area and the entire machinery is working day and night to ensure that the Covid guidelines are followed by everyone, the chief minister said. People are being checked at the border points before being allowed to enter Haridwar and attend the Mela. There are also arrangements for the random testing of people, he said.

Haridwar is all set to organise another Shahi Snan on the occasion of "Mesh Sankranti" on Wednesday during the ongoing Kumbh. Meanwhile, Uttarakhand on Tuesday reported the highest single-day spike this year in Covid cases with 1,925 testing positive in the state. Dehradun district with 775 cases, Haridwar with 594, Nainital with 217 and Udham Singh Nagar with 172 led the table while 13 infected patients died.

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