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The Supreme Court on Thursday took cognizance of the Uttar Pradesh government's decision to allow Kanwar Yatra and issued notice to the state and Centre on the same.

A bench headed by Justice R F Nariman has posted the matter for hearing on Friday.

The Yogi Adityanath government on Tuesday allowed the yatra from 25 July despite concerns raised in various quarters over the risk posed by such events in triggering a possible third wave of Covid-19.

The Uttarakhand government on Tuesday cancelled the Kanwar Yatra in view of the third wave scare.

"We decided to cancel the yatra, according topmost priority to human life in view of the threat of a possible third wave, the surfacing of the Delta Plus variant of the virus and its impact across the country and abroad," said Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami.

"The decision was taken after a meeting with senior officials and considering all aspects into account including the opinion of medical experts," he added.

Dhami also asked director general of police Ashok Kumar to coordinate with officials of the neighbouring states and request them to take effective steps to curb the spread of the virus.

Despite this, Uttar Pradesh officials had indicated that the pilgrimage will continue this year.

The state government said a negative RT-PCR test report can be made compulsory for pilgrims, if required.

An official spokesperson was quoted as saying by news PTI that Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has urged only a minimum number of people should participate in the annual yatra.

He also said that necessary guidelines should be issued for travel by holding a dialogue with the states of Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttarakhand.

In a meeting with all the divisional commissioners of the state and senior officers of police zones last week, the chief minister had reviewed the preparations and security arrangements for the yatra and directed the officials to reach out to Kanwar Sanghs to ensure that there is no unnecessary crowding.

"Complete adherence to the Covid protocol should be ensured. There should not be any hesitation regarding the safe and successful operation of Kanwar yatra," the UP CM had said.

This comes in the backdrop of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) writing to the Uttarakhand CM to disallow the Kanwar Yatra this year in light of the possible third wave of the pandemic.

In the letter, IMA Uttarakhand State Secretary Dr Ajay Khanna expressed concerns about the crowds.

"I request you to disallow the coming proposed Kanwar Yatra in July - August 2021... We should not allow devotees to enter the boundaries of our state and keep the state safe from the third wave of Covid," Khanna said.

Every year, tens of thousands of 'Kanwariyas' (devotees of Lord Shiva) from northern states travel on foot or by other means to collect water from River Ganga at Haridwar to offer at Shiva temples in their areas as part of the yatra.

For the annual Yatra, pilgrims visit Haridwar, Gaumukh, and Gangotri in Uttarakhand and Sultanganj in Bihar to fetch the water from the river Ganga. Later, the holy water is dispensed as offerings to Lord Shiva in temples.



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