- Chardham Yatra begins from tomorrow
- Uttarakhand Government assures the Court that COVID-19 guidelines will be strictly followed
- Pilgrims will have to carry a COVID-19 negative test report along with a vaccination certificate
The Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Pushkar Singh Dhami, on Friday announced that the Chardham Yatra will begin from tomorrow as reported by news agency ANI.
On Thursday, the Uttarakhand High Court vacated its stay on the Chardham Yatra and directed the state government to regulate and organise the pilgrimage with strict adherence to the COVID-19 norms.
Here are the detailed guidelines for Chardham Yatra:
Lifting the ban on the Chardham Yatra, a division bench of the court which comprised of Chief Justice RS Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma said the pilgrimage will start with restrictions like a daily limit on the number of devotees visiting the temples.
Pilgrims will have to carry a negative COVID test report along with a vaccination certificate for the visitors, the court said.
Also, putting a daily cap on the number of devotees that can visit the famous Himalayan temples also known as the Chardham, the high court said:
800 pilgrims will be allowed in Kedarnath Dham
1200 in Badrinath Dham
600 in Gangotri Dham
400 in Yamunotri Dham on a daily every day
The court also said that the pilgrims will not be allowed to take a bath in any of the springs around the temples.
The police force will also be deployed as required during the Chardham Yatra in Chamoli, Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi districts.
The court order comes as a big relief for the Uttarakhand government which was under tremendous pressure from several quarters to start the pilgrimage with which the livelihoods of lakhs of people including travel agents and pilgrimage priests are linked.
As the COVID-19 situation in the country continues to remain uncertain, on the 28th of June the court had put a stay on the state Cabinet’s decision to start the Chardham Yatra in a limited way for the residents of Chamoli, Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi districts where the temples are located.
It had plans to open up the Chardham Yatra in a phased manner for the pilgrims who resides outside the state depending on the COVID situation.
Following the order, the UK government approached the Supreme Court to vacate the high court’s stay on the yatra. As the matter was pending in the apex court, the high court was not in a position to hear the state government’s plea wherein it sought lifting of the ban.
However, it recently withdrew its Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court paving the way for the high court to hear its plea.
Advocate General SN Babulkar as well as Chief Standing Advocate CS Rawat who were appearing on behalf of the government demanded that the ban be removed to restore the livelihood of the local people.
The advocate general said there is an earning period of the Chardham Yatra and if the season passes, many families will suffer huge losses.
He further pleaded that the initial worry of the Court while imposing the ban has been addressed and there has been a significant improvement in health services.
The government also assured the Court that there will be strict adherence to the COVID-19 Statement of Purpose (SoP) for the Yatra.
In June, the Uttarakhand High Court had put a stay on the Chardham Yatra until further orders, while hearing Public Interest Litigations (PIL) related to the increase in COVID-19 cases, lack of health facilities and other factors in the state.
Against this order, the state government had filed a SLP in the Supreme Court, which could not be heard.
Advocate General SN Babulkar and CSC Chandrashekhar Rawat had recently requested a bench headed by Chief Justice RS Chauhan to lift the ban on travel, but the court refused to consider it, citing the SLP pending before the Supreme Court.
The government withdrew the SLP from the Supreme Court and apprised the high court, after which the high court heard the matter.