File image of Kedarnath temple in Uttarakhand. Char Dham project aims to improve road connectivity to the Hindu pilgrimage sites of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath | Commons
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New Delhi: The Uttarakhand government on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court against the High Court order staying the Chardham Yatra while reversing a state cabinet’s decision to open it partially for residents of three districts from July 1.

The state government said that the Uttarakhand High Court committed an error in not appreciating that the livelihood of a significant portion of the population living around the Char Dham is dependent on the Yatra.

It said that the High Court has wrongly stayed the part of the state cabinet order dated June 25, with respect to conducting restricted Chardham Yatra, only for a fixed number of pilgrims residing in three districts of Chamoli, Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi where the respective Char Dhams are located.

The State government said that the present COVID positivity rate (between June 15 to July 2) in the concerning three districts are — Chamoli-0.64 per cent, Rudraprayag-1.16 per cent and Uttarkashi-0.75 per cent.

The four holy shrines dedicated to Hindu gods and rivers — being Badrinath Dham, Kedarnath Dham, Gangotri Dham and Yamunotri Dham are situated in Garhwal region of the State and lakhs of devotees visit these shrines every year during the Chardham Yatra, which commences from April uptill November.

It said that pursuant to the COVID-19 pandemic, many PILs were filed before the High Court seeking various directions against the state government to take measures for controlling spread of the pandemic.

In the said batch of PILs, the High Court kept passing directions pertaining to Char Dham without any pleadings or submissions made by the respondents , the plea said.

It said that the due to the second wave of pandemic, the state government on May 3, has suspended the Chardham Yatra for 2021 while allowing the rituals and Pooja of the deity at each Dhams to be conducted by the respective priests/Dham management from 7 AM to 7 PM.

It is submitted that the State, stands aggrieved with only the paragraph of the impugned interim order, vide which cabinet decision dated June 25, 2021 regarding opening of restricted Chardham Yatra in first phase, has been stayed , it said.

The appeal said that in another paragraph of the order, the High Court has directed the chief secretary of secretary tourism, to inform the court whether live streaming of the rituals of Chardham has commenced or not, on the next date on July 7.

That the decision whether live streaming of rituals of Char Dham can be done or not and if it can be done then in how much time’- has to be taken by Board, whose chairman is the chief minister of the state.

It sought setting aside of the June 28 order on the ground that none of the PILs before the High Court have sought suspension or cancellation of Char Dham Yatra-2021 and the cabinet decision of June 25, was also never challenged before the court.

On June 28, the High Court has besides staying the cabinet’s decision on Chardham Yatra has expressed dissatisfaction with the state government’s arrangements for pilgrims and tourists during the Yatra amid the COVID pandemic.

Rejecting the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) issued by the state government for the yatra, the high court had said they were just a copy of the guidelines issued during the Kumbh Mela.

The high court has observed that it is more important to save everyone from the Delta Plus mutant of coronavirus rather than being considerate towards the feelings of a few.

Also read: Chardham Yatra in Uttarakhand postponed amid surge in Covid cases


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