“At a time when the threat of Covid-19 is still looming and a case of the Delta-plus variant has also been reported from Uttarakhand, we cannot allow Haridwar to become a hotbed of the pandemic,” Dhami said.
“People’s lives are important and we cannot play around with them. It is important to save lives during a pandemic. Even god will not like it if any lives are lost.”
This is the second year in succession that the kanwar yatra has been cancelled. Last year, too, the Trivendra Rawat government had decided not to hold the yatra in view of the Covid-19 situation.
Just a couple of days after Dhami took over as CM, there were speculations that Uttarakhand may allow the yatra. This was prompted by UP CM Yogi Adityanath dialing Dhami and requesting that kanwarias from UP should be allowed in limited numbers to come to Haridwar.
The call had initially triggered the state government to reconsider its decision. A day after speaking with Yogi, Dhami told senior officials to coordinate with neighbouring states like Delhi, UP and Haryana from where bulk of the kanwarias troop into Uttarakhand. During his subsequent visit to Delhi, he consulted with PM Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah on the issue even as experts back home cautioned that holding the yatra could have disastrous consequences. They pointed to the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar earlier this year and said Covid norms were violated with impunity. TOI had reported how even the tests that were done were marred by charges of fraud, with close to a lakh of the Covid examinations turning out to be fake or fixed.
The government’s decision was welcomed by many. Dehradun-based social activist Anoop Nautiyal said, “The government of Uttarakhand has made a wise decision and taken a clear stand. All energies should now be focused on strengthening our infrastructure/human resource to minimise the impact of the imminent third wave of the pandemic.”