The Uttarakhand government on Tuesday cancelled the Kanwar Yatra in view of a possible third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. But that does not necessarily mean devotees will be left in the lurch. According to officials, the administration is now coming up with innovative ways to make sure rituals can proceed as per usual.
"We've started process of sending Gangajal via post to devotees. We're also planning to supply Gangajal in tankers and are in talks with administration of neighbouring states to avoid large number of gathering here," Haridwar District Magistrate C Ravishankar told news agency ANI.
It was not immediately clear how one can sign up for this postal delivery system, or when and where the tankers would arrive.
With the yatra seeing lakhs of devotees travelling through several states by foot to Haridwar, newly appointed Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami had said that they did not want Haridwar to become "the centre of COVID-19". This incidentally is the second consecutive year that the yatra is not being held due to the deadly virus.
The neighbouring state of Uttar Pradesh has however decided to go ahead with the yatra. The Supreme Court on Wednesday took suo motu cognizance of the decision and asked the Centre and the governments of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand to clarify their stand on the issue.
A Bench headed by Justice Rohinton F Nariman issued notice to Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and the Centre. The matter will be heard on Friday. "We are a little disturbed given today's headline in the newspaper about the Kanwar Yatra, which is likely to be held from July 25. This Court has taken Suo Moto cognizance of the newspaper report and thus issues notice to the Union of India and the States of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand to file their early response," the Bench said.
(With inputs from agencies)