Chardham yatra to begin on Saturday

The Chardham Yatra in Uttarakhand will begin on Saturday after its prolonged suspension due to COVID-19.

A day after the Uttarakhand High Court vacated its stay on Chardham Yatra, the state government on Friday issued a detailed SOP to start the yatra from Saturday with strict adherence to COVID-19 norms.

Imposing a daily limit on the number of pilgrims visiting the Himalayan temples, the SOP put a cap of 1,000 pilgrims daily on Badrinath, 800 on Kedarnath, 600 on Gangotri and 400 on Yamunotri.

Showing a document certifying administration of both doses of the anti- Covid vaccine at least 15 days back or a negative RT/PCR/TrueNat/CBNAAT/RAT Covid test report not older than 72 hours will be compulsory for every pilgrim visiting the shrines, it said.

Pilgrims from inside the state will not be required to register on the Smart City portal but it will be compulsory for those coming from outside.

The Uttarakhand High Court vacated its stay on Chardham Yatra on Thursday in view of the decline in positive cases of the pandemic.

The state government was also under pressure to start the yatra as the livelihoods of lakhs of people are linked with the annual pilgrimage.

The yatra remained suspended for months due to the pandemic in 2020 and opened in the month of June with a total of 3,21,609 devotees visiting temples during the entire season amid the Covid-induced restrictions.

Meanwhile, Chief Secretary SS Sandhu visited Kedarnath on Friday and directed officials to make adequate arrangements for a safe pilgrimage to the Himalayan shrine.

Sandhu, who also reviewed the progress of the reconstruction projects at Kedarpuri, directed the officials to expedite work without compromising on quality. He advised them to set a weekly target and examine whether they had achieved it at the end of the week in order to speed up the pace of work.