Niranjani Akhada, one of the 13 religious clans whose seers are participating in the Kumbh Mela, on Thursday said that they have decided to opt out of the event from Saturday due to the deteriorating pandemic situation, The New Indian Express reported.
“The main Shahi Snan held on the occasion of Mesh Sankranti on April 14 is over,” said Ravindra Puri, the secretary of the Niranjani Akhada, according to PTI. “Many in our akhada are showing Covid-19 symptoms. So, for us the Kumbh Mela is over.”
However, he added that a final decision on concluding the event will only be taken by the Akhada Parishad, the top body of the akhadas.
Akhada Parishad President Narendra Giri himself has been infected with the virus and is being treated in Rishikesh. The head seer of the Maha Nirvani Akhada from Madhya Pradesh, Kapil Dev, died due to coronavirus on April 13.
The decision came a day after Uttarakhand state government officials ruled out the possibility of curtailing the Kumbh Mela, even as coronavirus cases continued to rise in Haridwar. The Mela is being attended by lakhs of pilgrims every day during a massive second wave of coronavirus in the country. The violation of Covid-19 protocols has attracted attention from across the world. However, state authorities, including Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat, have sought to downplay the threat. The Centre has not commented on the festival.
On Thursday, 613 people tested positive for the virus in Haridwar and one person died, according to official data. Nearly 2,800 samples have tested positive in the district in the last six days. There were as many as 3,612 active cases in the district on Thursday.
Uttarakhand recorded its highest single-day rise in Covid cases since the outbreak of the pandemic with 2,220 people testing positive on Thursday, PTI reported.
The Uttarakhand government on Thursday capped the number of people gathering for a religious or social event at 200. However, the Kumbh Mela was exempted from the restriction.
A fresh set of guidelines issued by the government added that swimming pool, spas and coaching centres will remain closed in all districts. Gyms, cinema halls, restaurants and bars will operate with 50% occupancy. Public transport will also operate with 50% of passenger capacity. The order said that public movement will remain prohibited from 10.30 pm to 5 am across the state.