The Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday allowed the resumption of the Char Dham Yatra, nearly three months after it imposed a stay on the pilgrimage, The Times of India reported.
The Uttarakhand government as well as a group of businessmen had approached the court asking for the pilgrimage to be resumed. The High Court had on June 28 prohibited the pilgrimage from being conducted.
A bench of Justices RS Chauhan and Alok Kumar Verma directed that only fully vaccinated persons who have a negative Covid-19 test report should be allowed to visit the shrines at Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri.
The High Court has further ordered that only 800 devotees will be permitted at the Kedarnath shrine, in a day while 1,200 will be allowed at Badrinath, according to ANI.
The court has allowed 600 devotees to visit the Gangotri shrine in a day and 400 of them at the Yamunotri shrine.
The state government also told the court that only three people will be allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the shrines at a time, The Times of India reported.
The court has told the state government to deploy an appropriate number of police officials and other authorities at the shrines to prevent overcrowding and ensure that Covid-19 protocols are followed.
The bench also directed the secretaries of the district legal services authorities of Uttarkashi, Chamoli and Rudraprayag – the districts where the shrines are located – to send reports every week to the High Court on crowds at the sites.
The court, while staying the pilgrimage on June 28, had said that lives of the people may be exposed to the danger of the Delta plus variant, and to the third wave of Covid-19.
“If the Char Dhar Yatra were permitted, we would again be inviting a catastrophe,” the court had remarked.
The judges had observed that the administration in Haridwar and Rishikesh had “singularly failed” to implement the guidelines during the Kumbh Mela held in April, leading to a surge in Covid-19 cases.
Last month, the Enforcement Directorate had raided the offices of laboratories that allegedly made fake entries for Covid-19 tests during the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar district.
The agency alleged that they had hardly conducted any tests but made fake entries to generate bills.
The blatant violation of Covid-19 protocols at the gathering, held in April during the second wave of the coronavirus, gained attention across the world. Many pointed out how the gathering increased the chances of a surge in infections. However, the state authorities tried to downplay the risks.