New Delhi [India], July 14 (ANI): Union Minister of State (MoS) for Tourism Ajay Bhatt has welcomed the Uttarakhand government's decision to cancel the Kanwar Yatra and said that the COVID-19 variant found in the Gadarpur area in the state could increase the chances of virus spread.
"It is our priority to save people's lives. PM Modi has been urging us to avoid crowded places and to follow COVID norms. The government has decided to suspend Kanwar Yatra looking at the current situation. We have also appealed to everyone in this regard," Bhatt said to ANI.
The Union Minister said, " The COVID-19 variant found in Uttarakhand's Gadarpur can increase the chances of virus spread. We do not want to risk people's lives. Pushkar Singh Dhami-led government took the right decision timely."
When asked about tourists violating COVID-19 protocols, he said that the guidelines must be followed.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji has rightly said that everyone should follow COVID SoPs and should not be careless. He has been continuously appealing to people regarding this. The Prime Minister has taken the initiative to save every individual. His concern is right, we should also be concerned," he added.
The Uttarakhand Government on Tuesday has decided to cancel Kanwar Yatra this year.
Kanwar Yatra is an annual pilgrimage of devotees of Lord Shiva to Hindu pilgrimage sites of Haridwar, Gaumukh and Gangotri in Uttarakhand and Sultanganj in Bihar to fetch holy waters of River Ganga. Later, the holy water is dispensed as offerings to Lord Shiva in temples.
Earlier, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) had written to Uttarakhand Chief Minister to disallow the Kanwar Yatra this year in light of the possible third COVID-19 wave.
In the letter, IMA Uttarakhand State Secretary Dr Ajay Khanna expressed concerns about the crowds that may gather for the annual pilgrimage and urged Dhami not to allow devotees from outside to enter the state for the Yatra. (ANI)