Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has said that the state government will take a call on the Jagannath Temple Rath Yatra as per the COVID-19 situation prevailing at that point in time. The chariot procession is scheduled to take place on July 12.
Notably, last year too, the Rath Yatra had to be cancelled owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and an order issued by the Gujarat High Court.
Rupani, while interacting with the media, said that Gujarat government after a lot of efforts has controlled the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in a massive decline in cases and deaths. He, however, warned that a reduction in cases should not be treated by people as if the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
Rupani asserted that the risk of COVID-19 is still there. He said that government has gradually given several relaxations so that people can continue their urgent work and their livelihood is not affected. He also requested that people should refrain from abusing the relaxations and continue to follow COVID safety guidelines.
The chief minister also clarified that the government will not think twice to again impose the lockdown, if need arise.
Preparations for Rath Yatra
Although it is not clear whether the traditional Rath Yatra will be allowed or not, the Gujarat Police and the Jagannath Temple Trust have begun preparations for the festival.
Earlier this month, police and municipal corporation authorities surveyed dangerous structures, pot-holed roads, and trees that need trimming on the Rath Yatra route. Usually, the police begin preparations for the Rath Yatra two months in advance.
Police also surveyed points where cops will be stationed and CCTV cameras will be mounted. A list is also being prepared of officials who have served during the past Rath Yatra bandobast.
Police and municipal officials are also trying to figure out how COVID norms, including masks and social distancing, can be imposed if Rath Yatra is to be held.
Rath Yatra in 2020
In 2020, the Gujarat High Court stayed the annual Rathyatra of Lord Jagannath in Ahmedabad that was scheduled on June 23. It was the first time that the procession was not taken out. The Rath Yatra was an unbroken tradition since 1878.
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