Maharashtra state board exams for classes 10, 12 postponed amid COVID surge, the government says “Your health is our priority”. On the other hand, hundreds of Mumbaikar left for Haridwar to take a holy dip in the Ganges.
Most of the devotees were seen without masks or safety precautions while approaching the river Ganges. Uttarakhand’s Haridwar is densely packed with crowds for prayers during the Kumbh Mela – one of the largest religious gatherings in the world.
Many devotees have been claiming that COVID-19 is not a major concern anymore since the state government has made a negative RT-PCR result mandatory for those visiting Haridwar.
A day ahead of the Shahi Snan – considered being an auspicious day to take a holy dip in the river – more than one lakh devotees were seen on the banks of the river, in clear violation of the COVID-19 rules issued by the Health Ministry.
Along with devotees, scores of seers representing 13 Akhadas were also seen taking a dip in the Ganges. Held every 12 years; this year’s Kumbh Mela is taking place in extraordinary circumstances, at a time when the second wave of the pandemic has gripped the country with over 1.5 lakh COVID-19 cases being reported in the last 24 hours.
Even as warnings against violation of COVID-19 rules have been installed at almost all the ghats and experts have urged the general public to avoid large gatherings and maintain social distancing to avoid further spread of the coronavirus, several devotees say it is practically impossible to adhere to these guidelines during the pilgrimage.
386 people have tested positive in the last 24 hours in Haridwar. There are 2056 active COVID-19 cases in the city. It has witnessed a 100 per cent jump in both the daily and active cases in just a week. On April 4, the city recorded 173 cases while the active cases stood at 837.
Meanwhile, several traffic diversions have been made across the city and separate timings have been allotted to all 13 Sadhu Akhadas, during which No devotees will be allowed access to the bathing ghats. The biggest challenge is to allow these people back home without the COVID test.