DEHRADUN: Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday commenting on Mahakumbh and Char Dham Yatra said that the government is causing embarrassment to its own people and questioned why the State cannot learn from its mistakes.
The bench comprising Chief Justice RS Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma remarked, “First we make the mistake of Kumbh Mela, then there is Char Dham. Why do we repeatedly cause embarrassment to ourselves?”
The CJ revealing that he has been receiving vedios of sanctum sanctorum of the four shrines- Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri crowded with people, remarked, “At least I feel embarrassed when my colleagues start calling me up and say what is happening to your state. I have no explanation because naturally I am not a decision maker. But I am surprised those of you who are decision makers are leaving it so carelessly as if it doesn’t bother anyone’s conscience anymore.”
The bench irked by videos and pictures of Char Dham circulating on various social media platforms also questioned, “Anyone is supervising (Char Dham Yatra) or is it left to the priests? What happens if coronavirus spreads among the priests? Even when deity is being worshiped, you can’t permit twenty priests in a small size of space such as sanctum sanctorum.”
It is to be noted that Char Dham Yatra is suspended this year but rituals are to be continued to uphold tradition without visit of any pilgrims to all four shrines- Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri.
After Dilip Jawalkar, secretary tourism, Uttarakhand told the bench that for each place of worship there are guidelines in place, the court said, “No one is following your guidelines. Please take a chopper to Char Cham, you will find what the reality is. Please take next chopper to Kedarnath and see for yourself.”
The Court added that the government should be asking questions to violators instead of the court intervening in the matter.
“With all those videos available on social media, you yourself should be asking these questions instead of court. You are issuing orders on paper which no one is implementing,” the CJ added.
“I am sorry to say, we caused embarrassment to ourselves then the rest of the country is saying what in the world is Uttarakhand doing. Can’t Uttarakhand learn from its own mistake? You can fool the Court, but you cannot fool the people. Everyone can see the reality which exists out there. You are playing with the lives of millions of people in the country,” the CJ further remarked.
The bench in the presence of officials from the state and the centre underlining the lurking threat of the third wave if situation is allowed to go out of hand like in Mahakumbh further added, “Sir, we are accountable to the people and Centre and we can’t again turn ourselves into a hotbed of covid. And not to mention after covid there is black fungus and experts are saying third wave will hit you in six months.”
The court was hearing a group of public interest litigations clubbed together concerning Covid situation and related issues such as availability of oxygen, other essentials including beds, medicines and medical assistance to urban and rural areas of the state.
Next hearing of the matter has been scheduled on June 9, 2021.
The court also questioned the centre over diversion of Oxygen from Uttarakhand to other states without fulfilling the state’s demand.
Uttarakhand happens to be oxygen surplus state with demand of 180 metric tonnes and production of 350 metric tonnes. The hill state is allowed to take only 120 MT oxygen out of that and rest is being arranged from Jamshedpur and Durgapur.
The court questioned, “Why is the centre failing to understand a reasonable request of Uttarakhand? Instead of diverting Uttarakhand’s oxygen to Uttar Pradesh and asking us to import oxygen from Jamshedpur and Durgapur, which takes time, costs, why can’t we take it from our own state?”
“We fail to understand despite a sharp increase in Covid cases and Uttarakhand being a hilly area, why the oxygen allocation to the state has not been increased to 300 MT?” questioned the CJ.
The court also added that it was surprised at the ‘callous attitude of the central government’ and ‘stepmotherly treatment’ as every request of Uttarakhand is falling on deaf ears.
The CJ further said, “I am sorry to say this neglect of Uttarakhand is not acceptable to the court. I’d like to believe our state is equal to other states.”
The court visibly angry over absences of centre’s officials to clarify the situation said that it can issue summons to the official if he is too busy to appear before the court.
After state government officials appraised the court that the centre is yet to respond to the communications with regard to the issue, the court stated, “We are not going to take this answer that he is too busy to attend the court. I am surprised to hear that someone has said is too busy to appear before this court. If he wants, I will issue summons.”