Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has urged that only a minimum number of people should participate in the annual Kanwar Yatra and directed strict implementation of the COVID-19 protocol, an official spokesman said on Tuesday.
The state government, which has allowed the yatra from July 25 despite concerns raised in various quarters over the risk posed by such events in triggering a possible third wave of the pandemic, said a negative RT-PCR test report can be made compulsory for pilgrims, if required.
Every year, tens of thousands of ''Kanwariyas'' (devotees of Lord Shiva) from northern states travel on foot or by other means to collect water from River Ganga at Haridwar to offer at Shiva temples in their areas as part of the yatra.
The traditional Kanwar Yatra will be taken out as per the COVID protocol, the official spokesman said.
"The RT-PCR negative report could also be made necessary for the yatra, if required," the spokesman said.
In view of the COVID-19 situation, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has directed that Kanwar Sanghs should be requested for the participation of a minimum number of people in the yatra, the spokesman said.
He also said that necessary guidelines should be issued for travel by holding a dialogue with the states of Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttarakhand.
In a meeting with all the divisional commissioners of the state and senior officers of police zones last week, the chief minister had reviewed the preparations and security arrangements for the yatra and directed the officials to reach out to Kanwar Sanghs to ensure that there is no unnecessary crowding.
"Complete adherence to the COVID protocol should be ensured. There should not be any hesitation regarding the safe and successful operation of Kanwar yatra," the UP Chief Minister had said.
He said special attention needs to be paid regarding cleanliness and proper lighting in all Shiv temples, shivalayas and travel routes.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)