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Major Ganga ghats in Uttarakhand's Haridwar and Rishikesh wore a deserted look on the occasion of Makar Sankranti after a ban was imposed on on devotees taking a holy dip in the river. 

Authorities on Friday completely sealed Har ki Pauri Ghat in Haridwar and Triveni Ghat in Rishikesh, which generally receive lakhs of devotees from Uttarakhand and the neighbouring states. 

In addition to this, police personnel were also standing guard to ensure that the ban was effective. 

Patrolling and checking along Haridwar's borders were intensified so that people unaware of the ban did not enter the Har ki Pauri area for a bath, a police official in Haridwar said.

Though some crowd was seen on Subhash Ghat, a short distance away from Har ki Pauri, Superintendent of Police (City) Swatantra Kumar said they had arrived for immersing ashes of their deceased kin as the ghat is reserved for the purpose.

The police arrangements were made after Haridwar district magistrate Vinay Shankar Pandey and his Dehradun counterpart R Rajesh Kumar announced a ban on ritual bathing in River Ganga a few days ago to check the spread of the coronavirus.

"In view of the increasing Covid-19 cases, the administration has banned the devotees to take a bath at Harki Pauri. Simultaneously, travellers coming to Haridwar, who wanted to take a special bath of Makar Sankranti are being stopped at the border. We are returning them by requesting them or, devotees are sent to nearby ghats to take the holy dips," said Haridwar CO Shekhar Suyal.

Makar Sankranti or Maghi is a festival in the Hindu calendar, in which devotees make offerings to the deity Surya. The day marks the first day of the sun's transit into the Makara, marking the end of the month with the winter solstice and the start of longer days.

Uttarakhand recorded 8,018 Covid-19 cases on Thursday. The cumulative caseload of the state stood at 3,41,768 while the total number of deaths recorded so far is 7,433.

 

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