The Uttarakhand government has decided to cancel the Kanwar Yatra this year owing to the threat of Covid-19. The decision was taken after a high-level meeting between Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami and top officials of the state government.
“We are not interested in turning Haridwar into a Covid-19 hotspot. We do not want to put people’s lives at risk. Keeping this in mind we have decided to cancel the Kanwar Yatra. We have to save lives. God wouldn’t want lives to be lost," said Dhami after the meeting.
During the meeting, health experts put forth their view on the devastating effects of the Delta Plus variant, the threat of the third wave of coronavirus, and upholding the value of human lives, the Dhami administration cancelled the annual pilgrimage this year.
The yatra had been cancelled last year too due to the first wave of Covid-19.
The Uttarakhand government’s decision comes even as the Uttar Pradesh administration has allowed the yatra from July 25 in spite of concerns raised in various quarters over the risk posed by such events in triggering a possible third wave of the pandemic.
The Indian Medical Association’s Uttarakhand chapter had on Monday written to Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami requesting him to cancel the Kanwar Yatra this year for public safety in view of a possible third wave of Covid-19. Drawing the Chief minister’s attention to the warnings of medical experts about a third wave of the pandemic in a letter, the IMA’s state secretary Amit Khanna asked him to not allow the proposed Kanwar Yatra to go ahead.
Earlier, green lighting the annual pilgrimage, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had urged that only a minimum number of people should participate in the annual Kanwar Yatra yatra and directed the strict implementation of the Covid-19 protocol. The state government said a negative RT-PCR test report can be made compulsory for pilgrims if required.
The fortnight-long yatra that begins with the onset of the month of Shravan around July 25 and goes on till the first week of August sees crores of Kanwariyas from neighbouring states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Delhi and Himachal Pradesh gathering in Haridwar to collect the holy waters of the Ganga.