Even with fewer numbers, SOP is conspicuous by its absence on this giant congregation of humanity
Holding a pitcher in hand, Aniruddh Pandey, a priest exterior the Ganga temple at Har Ki Pauri in Haridwar, put his finger on one-third of the vessel’s physique. “This is the size of the Kumbh Mela and our work this year. It is only about sipahi (security staff), safai karmachari (sanitary worker) and sadhu (hermit),” he mentioned sheepishly, bringing out a masks from his pocket when it’s absence is identified.
Just a few metres away, barbers shave the heads of the bereaved with not even one gaz (sq. yard) of doori (distance). “What to do, we have to make ends meet?” mentioned Tushar Thakur. “During the lockdown, we decided that only 10 younger barbers would sit at Har Ki Pauri and they share their income with the rest of the community,” he mentioned.
“Is the virus not spreading from rallies in Bengal?” requested one of many pandas (monks) who information devotees’ visits to Haridwar. “We have installed a sanitiser machine where yajmaans (patrons) are asked to take a bath but there are few takers.”
“These are strange times. You have to sanitise yourself before taking a bath in the Ganges!” exclaimed Sohanlal Sharma, a priest on the Shankaracharya Math temple, pointing to the sanitiser dispensers on the holy ghat.
Devotees getting their heads shaved at Har Ki Pauri in Haridwar Photo: Anuj Kumar
On Thursday, a day after the Uttarakhand High Court handed an order that mentioned the Kumbh shouldn’t be allowed to develop into a breeding floor for the COVID-19 virus and that the usual working protocol (SOP) of the Central authorities ought to be adhered to “in letter and spirit”, 1000’s took the auspicious Ekadasi bathtub within the Ganges, lots of them with out a masks and COVID-19 adverse report.
The HC order mentioned devotees ought to come to Haridwar with a COVID-19 adverse report that isn’t greater than 72 hours outdated. However, Kumbh Mela Adhikari Deepak Rawat mentioned that, formally, the Mela would begin on April 1 as per the State authorities notification which, by the way, additionally got here on March 24.
Mr. Rawat mentioned the SOPs can be publicised in different States in order that these with out the check report, “don’t make plans” to journey.
In accordance with custom, the Haridwar Kumbh started on January 15 and 5 snans (holy bathtub), together with the shahi snan of Mahashivaratri, have already occurred. Observers really feel that the stakeholders wakened when the instances rose within the week following Shivaratri. A Central authorities workforce reported that 10-15 instances had been being reported on daily basis.
Anoop Nautiyal, founding father of the Social Development of Communities Foundation, a Dehradun-based assume tank, mentioned that had the federal government needed the SOPs, they might have been applied from January itself. Also, because the HC order identified, a few of the essential COVID-19 associated infrastructure reminiscent of a 550-bed hospital just isn’t operational but.
The order got here after the newly appointed Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat made statements that rendered SOPs superfluous as he welcomed all people. On March 22, the virus caught up with him and he remoted himself.
However, it seems that the message didn’t percolate. On Thursday, Banshidhar Bhagat, Urban Development and Housing Minister, held an official assembly with out carrying a masks.
Refusing to touch upon the Minister’s COVID-19 inappropriate behaviour, C. Ravi Shankar, District Magistrate, Haridwar admitted that checking studies on the border can be a enormous problem. “We have been reiterating it. We are putting up multiple lanes and creating holding areas,” he mentioned.
He mentioned the an infection charge in Haridwar was a lot decrease than the nationwide and State common. On March 24, he mentioned, 64 constructive instances had been discovered, whereas on March 25, the quantity was 54. “There is a slight increase in numbers as we have increased our testing capacity from 2,000 to 6,000. We intend to ramp it up to at least 10,000 a day by April 1.”
The HC order mentioned that 10 lakh folks had been anticipated on the Kumbh on common days and 50 lakh guests on snan days however officers really feel, with no particular trains this time, the numbers will probably be much less. Mr. Shankar mentioned that on Mahashivratri, the variety of devotees was 32 lakh as in opposition to 45 lakh final yr. “Apart from saints, who are being tested, not many people are staying back. On the five snan days, we have cumulatively tested 1 lakh floating people with rapid antigen kits and only 47 were found to be positive.”
Hari Giri Maharaj, basic secretary of the Akhil Bhartiya Akhada Parishad mentioned he had appealed to all of the collaborating saints to get themselves examined on the nearest facility. “The akhadas will reimburse the cost of testing,” he mentioned.
Meanwhile, on the sprawling Punjab Sindh Dharamshala with 300-odd rooms however no sanitiser dispenser in sight, Satyadev from Gohena close to Sonipat has booked a room for 2 days for 5 members. “There is no COVID-19 in our area so there is no need for the test,” he mentioned. Again, the masks was lacking.