A day after the Uttarakhand high court lifted the daily limit on the number of devotees on Char Dham yatra, the state government issued a new standard operating procedure (SOP) for the pilgrims. Under the new guidelines, registration on the Char Dham Board portal will be mandatory for ‘darshan’ in the four dhams. However, yatra e-Pass from the portal is no longer required to visit the shrines.
The devotees should either be fully vaccinated against coronavirus disease (Covid-19) or have to produce a negative Covid report not older than 72 hours. The relaxation comes in the wake of significant decline in daily Covid-19 cases in the state.
On Tuesday, a division bench of Chief Justice R S Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma lifted the cap on pilgrims following the state government’s plea but added that every pilgrim will have to bring a negative Covid-19 test report or a vaccination certificate.
“As per Hon’ble High Court of Uttarakhand order dated 05/10/2021 regarding the Chardham Yatra, upper ceiling on number of pilgrims visiting the dham temples has been removed. However all the pilgrims visiting Uttarakhand have to register themselves only on the portal http://smartcitydehradun.uk.gov.in and follow the Uttarakhand State Covid-19 SOP,” says Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board on its website.
The court stayed the Char Dham yatra in June owing to the disastrous second wave of Covid-19 pandemic as hundreds of thousands lost their lives. Later in September, the court lifted the stay but limited the number of daily pilgrims to the four revered Himalayan shrines – 800 for Kedarnath, 1000 for Badrinath, 600 for Gangotri and 400 for Yamunotri. It had also banned bathing in any reservoir or spring located around the shrines.
In its latest order, the court has directed the state government to increase the healthcare facilities on Char Dham routes and shines.