Haridwar (Uttarakhand) [India], April 12 (ANI): As lakhs of devotees on Monday took a holy dip in Ganga at the Har Ki Pauri in Haridwar on the second 'Shahi Snan' (royal bath) during the ongoing Kumbh Mela, Uttarakhand DGP Ashok Kumar said a gap of half an hour is being observed between the 'snans' of two akharas to clean the ghats.
He also informed that the footfall of devotees is 50 per cent less than expected due to the resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As many as 21,07,000 people have taken the royal bath in and around the Kumbh Mela area till 12 noon, according to the Kumbh Mela police control room.
Speaking to ANI, DGP Kumar said, "We are observing a gap of half an hour in between the 'snan' of two akharas to vacate and clean the ghats. The footfall is 50 per cent less than what we were expecting this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic."
ITBP troops have been deployed in different security duties during 'Shahi Snan' on Somavati Amavasya.
The first Shahi Snan was held on March 11 on the occasion of Mahashivratri, while the second is being held on Monday and on Wednesday. The third Shahi Snan will be taken by 13 akhadas.
Kumbh Inspector General (IG) Sanjay Gunjyal had earlier admitted that it was difficult to ensure social distancing norms during the second 'Shahi Snan'.
"We are continuously appealing to people to follow COVID-19 appropriate behaviour. But due to the huge crowd, it is practically not possible to issue challans today. It is very difficult to ensure social distancing at ghats," Gunjyal said.
"A stampede-like situation may arise if we would try to enforce social distancing at ghats so we are unable to enforce social distancing here. The general public will be allowed here till 7 am. After that, this area will be reserved for akharas," he added.
Uttarakhand reported 1,333 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Sunday taking the total number of the cases in the state to 1,08,812. The active cases in the state now stand at 7,323. (ANI)