In the wake of the Covid 19 pandemic which has widely spread its tentacles in the area the historical religious congregation of ‘Ganga Snan Mela’ and ‘Deepdaan’ festival in Garh Mukteshwar of district Hapur and Hastinapur of district Meerut that was scheduled from November 25 till November 30, has been cancelled this year.

The decision has been taken up by the state government on the report of district officials in the greater interest of the public. Since a large number of people come to the banks of Holy Ganges in Garhmukteshwar and Hastinapur during the congregation, the possibility of further spread of the pandemic could not be ruled out. Hence, this decision has been taken up by the government to avoid public gatherings.

Besides UP, people from the surrounding states of Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan turn up in Garhmukteshwar every year on the occasion of Kartik Purnima to take a holy dip in the river.

Many of these offer ‘Deepdaan’ for the ‘Mukti’ of their forefathers. People light diyas in the Ganges on Kartik Purnima for the salvation of their deceased loved ones. The banks of Ganges are flooded with the diyas on this day giving it a divine sight. But this would not be possible this year in view of the pandemic.

The Ganga Snan Mela was scheduled to start from the coming Wednesday in Garhmukteshwar. The state government allocates a budget of over Rs 1 crore for this Mela every year which continues for 3 to 4 days. In Hastinapur, the Mela would commence from the coming Friday.

According to ASP Hapur Sarvesh Mishra, there is a complete ban on the arrival of people at the banks of Ganges from November 25to 30 and section 144 of CrPc has been imposed in the area to prevent crowd gatherings at the Mela venue.

He informed that the decision to cancel the Mela has been taken up by the state government after examining the joint report of the district magistrate and SP Hapur which is to discourage public gathering because of Covid 19. The ASP further added that in order to prevent the entry of people in the Mela area, barriers have been put up at the borders of the district.

At the banks of River Ganges in Makhdoompur of Hastinapur area of district Meerut, the Jila Panchayat also organises Ganga Snan Mela every year. Thousands of pilgrims turn up for this Mela every year, said Jila Panchayat president Kulwinder Singh adding that this year, however, the Mela has been cancelled due to the pandemic.

In the meeting of Jila Panchayat the unanimous decision was taken in this regard, he said adding that all members were of the view of not putting at risk the lives of people.

He said that people are being sensitized in this regard. They are being asked not to move in groups but they can take a dip one-by-one as they are not allowed to gather. He also said that barriers would be put up by the police to prevent the entry of people in groups.