Haridwar- The celebration of the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar formally begun on Thursday keeping in mind several Covid-19 restrictions as the cases of coronavirus keep skyrocketing and spiraling out of control with every passing day. Over 5 million people are expected on the most auspicious days- April 12, 14, and 21- for an expected total tally of over 100 million devotees.
The Kumbh Mela takes place every 12 years and the venues are selected from amongst the cities of Allahabad, Haridwar, Nasik, and Ujjain. This year though, the state government had announced to reduce the number of days for the Kumbh Mela to 48 days which is otherwise a 120 days long affair. The last time Kumbh Mela was celebrated in Haridwar was back in 2010 from January 14 to April 28.
As per the orders from the Uttrakhand High Court, it is mandatory for the devotees to have a negative RT-PCR test report not older than 72 hours before arrival. It would also be compulsory for the devotees who have received the first dose of the corona vaccine, providing the officials with the anti-vaccination certificates.
The devotees will also have to follow the common Covid-19 protocols such as wearing the masks, maintaining social distancing, and frequently sanitation of hands. The High Court has also instructed the local health authorities to speed up testing from 5,000 to 50,000 per day. Uttrakhand has reported 293 fresh Covid-19 positive cases on Wednesday in the districts of Haridwar at 70 and Dehradun at 171 contributing to the majority caseload.
A total of 12,000 police and 400 Central forces personnel will be present to oversee the law and order situation as well the implementation of Covid-19 protocols in the Kumbh kshetras spread over 670 hectares. 38 temporary hospitals, 200 doctors, and 1,500 paramedical staff have also been assembled for devotees in the Mela area.
However, on Monday, the officials say that they are having a difficult time controlling the huge crowd and implement Covid-19 safety norms. A senior police officer told the ANI that social distancing near the river bank is being very difficult to ensure. Monday signifies the biggest bathing day during the two-month-long festival where hundreds of thousands of devotees expected to take a dip. Read more
On Monday, India had overtaken Brazil to become the second-worst affected country in the world by coronavirus after having reported 1,68,912 fresh cases of Covid 19 overnight, which is by far the record highest number of cases reported in a single day. This single-day highest spike of coronavirus cases has taken the total tally of cases up to an alarming 1,35,27,717. Maharashtra, the worst affected Indian state by Covid-19 accounts for an average of almost 30-40% of daily cases with a single day spike of 63,294. The national capital Delhi has witnessed a single-day spike of 10,774 cases. On Sunday, Guwahati had recorded an alarming spike of 186 new Covid-19 cases, while Assam reported another 352 fresh Covid-19 cases taking the total tally of caseload to 1,902.
In grave times like this, it is our collective responsibility as a society to ensure proper implementation of Covid 19 protocols at the same time cooperate with our front-line healthcare workers who are relentlessly fighting to contain the spread of this deadly virus.