After 3 months, Uttarakhand HC allows Char Dham Yatra resumption
The Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday lifted its stay on the Char Dham Yatra with some restrictions. The order came as the HC was hearing an application filed by the state government, asking the court to allow the yatra. Notably, the yatra was stayed by the court on June 28. Apart from the government, local traders, too, had approached the HC requesting the same.
The HC said only fully vaccinated people with a COVID-19 negative report will be allowed to visit the shrines of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri. There are also restrictions regarding the number of people visiting each of the shrines. It said only 800 people would be allowed to visit Kedarnath each day. The same is 600, 1,000, 400 for Gangotri, Badrinath, and Yamunotri, respectively.
The court also asked the state government to deploy an appropriate number of policemen at each of these shrines to ensure adherence to COVID-19 protocols. The HC also said that secretaries of District Legal Service Authorities (DLSA) in Uttarkashi, Chamoli, and Rudraprayag—where the shrines are located—will send weekly reports to the HC with details of measures and status of the crowding at the shrines.
The HC order will provide relief to thousands whose livelihood depends on Char Dham Yatra. The yatra employs over 10,000 people, who are engaged in various tourist-centric businesses like restaurants and hotels, tour guides, travel agents, tourist vehicle owners. Uttarakhand Assembly Speaker PC Aggarwal said the reopening of the Char Dham Yatra would benefit local traders who had incurred heavy losses due to COVID-19.
The state Cabinet had earlier resolved to start Char Dham Yatra from July 1. However, the HC stayed that decision on June 28. The state government had approached the Supreme Court against HC's stay but no hearing was held. Later, the state government withdrew its Special Leave Petition from the apex court and filed an application before the HC.