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Uttarakhand HC Slams State Govt Over Flouting of COVID Norms at Tourist Places

The Uttarakhand High Court further extended the stay on the Chardham Yatra.

Updated
India
2 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>People boating at Naini Lake in Nainital, India.</p></div>
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The Uttarakhand High Court on Wednesday, 28 July, pulled up the state's government over the non-adherence to COVID-19 protocol at tourist destinations, and extended the stay on the Chardham Yatra, till the Supreme Court relays a decision on the matter.

Chief Justice RS Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma, who presided over the case, noted that 75 percent of the travellers coming into Uttarakhand's Nainital were not abiding by the COVID-19 regulations such as social distancing, leading to a rise in the number of coronavirus cases, news agency PTI reported.

The bench further questioned the state government over the measures instated by it to regulate the crowds at tourist places over the weekends.

Inquiring about the status of various health facilities in the state, the high court interrogated the state government about the ongoing vaccination drive, and remarked upon the insufficient number of vaccination centres.

The bench also inquired about the results of the testing conducted for 300 samples suspected of carrying the Delta Plus COVID-19 variant, and sought a response on the number of deaths in the state due to coronavirus so far.

The high court directed the state government to submit a detailed report on COVID-related matters. The report is to be submitted before 18 August, the next date of the hearing, PTI reported.

The court also extended the stay on the Chardham Yatra until 18 August, or till the Supreme Court declares its decision on the matter.

Taking view of the prevailing COVID-19 situation, the high court had imposed a stay on the Chardham Yatra pilgrimage on 28 June, following which the state government had moved the Supreme Court against the order. The Supreme Court is yet to hear the plea.

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Row Over Live-Streaming of the Chardham Yatra

The Uttarakhand government on 29 June suspended the Char Dham Yatra until further notice, a day after the Uttarakhand High Court directed the state government to not allow the same, arguing that religious faith cannot be allowed to override “public safety.”

The court had also asked the Uttarakhand government to ensure live-streaming of visuals from the four shrines.

Following the court's order, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, on 17 July, rejected the live-streaming option proposed by the court.

Dhami said that religious ceremonies performed in the inner sanctorum of Char Dham Yatra will not be live-streamed "as it is not written in the Vedas."

Speaking to reporters he said, “After taking into account all the suggestions, we have decided not to hold live-streaming of Char Dham Yatra as it is not written in the Vedas.”

(With inputs from PTI)

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