In a sudden change of stand the Uttarakhand government on Wednesday (April 7) wrote a letter to the Railway ministry asking it to stop all the trains entering the state from April 11 to 14 following a steep rise in corona virus cases.
Millions of pilgrims from across India, even from abroad, have gathered at Haridwar in the highlands of Uttarakhand to take holy bath in river Ganga on the occasion of Maha Kumbh Mela, which is currently going on.
Over 32 lakh pilgrims took a holy dip on the occasion of ‘Shahi Snan’ on Mahashivratri (March 11). It is expected that even larger number may take bath on the auspicious days of April 12, 14 and 27.
The state government was earlier not against organising this Maha Kumbh Mela. The new chief minister Tirath Singh Rawat even overturned the decision of his predecessor, Trivendra Singh Rawat who wanted the Mela to be organised under strict restrictions. The latter wanted cap on the number of pilgrims and was in favour of organising the Mela on the guidelines issued by the Centre. But the new chief minister on March 20 overturned the previous decision and threw it open for everyone.
The state government had adopted Standard Operating Procedure. Pilgrims were asked to come with corona test report. Those not coming with it were asked to undergo test. Those tested positive were returned.
However, the state government suddenly took a decision to stop further entry of the pilgrims as they are not maintaining social distancing. Many of them are not wearing mask and using sanitizers as well.
The decision to ask Railways to stop trains might have been taken in view of the repeated warning by the Union health ministry to stop the gathering of people following surge in number of COVID-19 cases all over India.