The Uttarakhand High Court on Wednesday directed the state government to frame a standard operating procedure for the Char Dham yatra and warned it against any laxity as seen during the Kumbh Mela, which led to a spike in coronavirus cases.
Dissatisfied with an affidavit filed by Tourism Secretary Dilip Jawalkar, the court said that the government has only stated that the Char Dham Yatra is barred till June 22 but there is no clarity if it will be carried out in a phased manner.
The court observed that the government issued its SOPs a day before the beginning of the Kumbh and due to a lack of preparation, there was an increase in coronavirus cases, which tarnished the reputation of the state.
Hearing a PIL, a Division Bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Alok Verma asked the state government to prepare a standard operating procedure (SOP) and file it before the court by June 21.
On the next date of hearing, the chief secretary, health secretary and the additional tourism secretary were also directed to appear in the court through video conferencing.
The Bench observed that taking decisions at the last moment has its pitfalls.
During the Kumbh also, there was difficulty in compliance due to issuance of last-minute notification, it said.
The court said it is the job of the government to take policy decisions and if it wants to carry out the yatra in a phased manner, then there should be SOPs and medical facilities for the safety of the passengers and local residents.
The court said that these arrangements should be decided in time. The High Court also said the pilgrims will have to follow the rules.