Officials of the Uttarakhand government on Wednesday ruled out the possibility of cutting short the Kumbh Mela even as more than 2,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the last five days in Haridwar. According to PTI, 1,701 devotees have tested positive for the virus from the Kumbh Mela alone.
Haridwar District Magistrate Deepak Rawat said that the Kumbh Mela was earlier scheduled to begin in January, but the Uttarakhand government decided to start it in April due to the coronavirus situation, NDTV reported “I have no information of it being curtailed,” Rawat said.
Rawat’s comment came after reports on Wednesday evening suggested that the officials were contemplating to cut short the Mela, which is witnessing the footfall of lakhs of pilgrims every day amid the massive second wave of coronavirus in the country.
On Wednesday, Haridwar reported 525 new cases and two deaths, according to official data. The state conducted only 32,257 tests. The count of active cases in the district stood at 3,179. The district had reported 594 cases of coronavirus on Tuesday and 408 on Monday. In the last five days, 2,167 people have tested positive for the infection.
Meanwhile, the Uttarakhand government on Wednesday moved a plea in the High Court seeking relief on an order to conduct 50,000 tests each day in Haridwar, News18 reported. The order was part of the Standard Operating Procedure prescribed for the Mela by the Uttarakhand High Court last month.
However, the state’s Health Secretary Amit Negi told the court on Wednesday that the authorities have been able to conduct only up to 39,000 tests on the two days of “Shahi Snaan” on April 12 and 14. Negi said that it was difficult to conduct the tests as Haridwar was receiving a “floating population”.
The Uttarakhand government has failed to conduct the 50,000 tests ordered by the court, even as the Mela saw as many as over 28 lakh devotees turning up to take a dip in the Ganges river in open violation of coronavirus norms on Monday, the first “shahi snaan” day. On Wednesday too, over nine lakh devotees had come to the event by 2 pm, NDTV reported, quoting the state government.