The union health ministry on Sunday has issued fresh guidelines for the forthcoming Kumbh Mela in Haridwar. As per the Standard Operating Protocol (SOP), pilgrims will be required to carry a Covid-19 negative certificate after undergoing an RT-PCR test.
According to the Centre’s guidelines, RT-PCR test taken not more than 72 hours prior to their visit to Haridwar during the Kumbh Mela are mandatory. The reports will also be required to be uploaded on the Uttarakhand government’s official web portal.
Senior citizens above 65 years of age, pregnant women and children below the age of 10 will not be permitted to visit Haridwar during Kumbh. Patients with underlying health conditions and comorbidities such diabetes, hypertension, cardiac disease, chronic lung disease, cerebro-vascular disease, chronic kidney disease, immune-suppression and cancer will be “discouraged” to visit.
Additionally, visitors will have to bring a ‘health report’ issued from Community Health Centre/District hospital/Medical college in their State. Officials have estimated around 10 lakh pilgrims are likely to visit Haridwar to take the holy dip in Ganga river. The number of visitors could go up to 50 lakhs during the six big occasions.
Considered to be the biggest Hindu religious festival, the ‘Maha Kumbh’ is celebrated every 12 years and draws a huge crowd. This year, the Kumbh would continue for two months – from February 27 to April 27. During the two months, six major ‘snans’ will take place among which — February 27 (Magh Purnima snan) and March 11 (Maha Shivratri) is expected to draw huge gatherings. Other major dates include — April 12 (Somvati Amavasya), April 14 (Baisakhi), April 21 (Ram Navmi) and April 27 (Chaitra Purnima).
The Uttrakhand government has been working on safety measures and crowd management for the mega event in view of the ongoing covid-19 pandemic situation.
Chief Minister Trivendra Rawat took stock of the preparation on Sunday and expressed satisfaction on the ongoing works.
The health ministry has advised the state government to install foot-operated water taps instead of the hand taps. The authorities have been instructed to ensure that social distancing and highest hygiene standards are maintained to curb the spread of Covid.
Apart from pilgrims, Kumbh also attracts lakhs of saints associated with the 13 Akharas (monastery) who come to Haridwar for the mega event. Acharaya Kailashanand, head of the Niranjani Akhara – one of the biggest Akharas said safety measures will be followed: “Kumbh is the major event for sadhus. We will do whatever possible to follow protocols”.