Providing a major setback to Uttarakhand chief minister Tirath Singh Rawat’s plan for free entry of pilgrims in Kumbh Mela, the Uttarakhand High Court passed a strict guideline in Nainital on Wednesday.

The High Court restricted the participation in Kumbh to devotees with only Covid-19 negative reports . The High Court asked the state government to rigidly follow the standard operating procedures (SOP) for Kumbh issued by the ministry of health and family welfare (Government of India).

The court termed the decision of chief minister Tirath Rawat ‘wrong’ for allowing open entry of pilgrims in Kumbh. Passing an order on a PIL filed, the High Court provided some relief to pilgrims who have received Covid-19 vaccination. The pilgrims will be allowed entry in the Kumbh Mela on condition of producing their vaccination certificate.

The SOP issued by the central government clearly states that visitors with a negative Covid-19 report, done 72 hours prior to the date of visit, shall only be allowed to enter the Kumbh Mela area.

Rajesh Bhushan, Union secretary, ministry of health and family welfare recently wrote a letter to chief secretary Uttarakhand strongly highlighting the concerns raised by the high level central team in its visit to Uttarakhand and about the need of stringent measures to control the spread of Covid19 during Kumbh Mela.

A high level central team led by director NCDC which visited Uttarakhand recently, fears that there is a potential of an upsurge in cases in the local population after the auspicious Shahi Snan days during the Kumbh Mela.