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Rath Yatra 2020: Not More Than 500 Persons To Pull Each Chariot, COVID-19 Test Mandatory

Puri: The entire stretch of Badadanda reverberated with chants of ‘Jai Jagannath’ moments after the Supreme Court modified its order and allowed Rath Yatra in Puri today. Millions of devotees took a huge sigh of relief as they were earlier shattered by the news after the apex court on June 18 had stayed the conduct of the festival in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the Supreme Court while hearing several petitions today gave its nod for the conduct of Rath Yatra only in Puri with restrictions.

“Clearly, any spread of Coronavirus due to the Rath Yatra would be disastrous due to the large number of persons and the impossibility of tracking all the infected people after they have gone back to their respective homes. Needless to say that it is not possible to screen the medical conditions of all those who converge on the cities for the Rath Yatra,” Supreme Court said in its order.

The apex court’s order further read, “We are informed that in the 18th-19th century, a yatra of this kind was responsible for the spread of cholera and plague “like wild fire.” We say this in order to remind the authorities concerned that the situation can become dangerous if the rules of caution are ignored.”

Here are the conditions laid by Supreme Court for the conduct of Puri Rath Yatra 2020:

-All entry points into the City of Puri airports, railway stations, bus stands, shall be closed during the period of Rath Yatra festival.

-The State Government shall impose a curfew in Puri on all the days and during all the time when Rath Yatra chariots are taken in procession. The State Government may also impose curfew in the city of Puri on such other days and during such time as deemed necessary.

-During the period of curfew,no one would be allowed to come out of their houses or their places of residence, such as, hotels, lodging houses, etc.

-Each Rath (Chariot) shall be pulled by not more than 500 persons. Each of those 500 persons shall be tested for the Coronavirus. They shall be permitted to pull the chariot only if they have been found negative. The number 500 shall include officials and police personnel.

-There shall be an interval of one hour between two chariots.

-Each of those who is engaged in pulling the chariot shall maintain social distancing before, during and after the Rath Yatra.

-Only such persons shall be associated with the rituals who have been found to have tested negative and shall maintain social distancing.

-The primary responsibility for conducting the Rath Yatra in accordance with the conditions and other norms shall be that of the Committee in-charge of Puri Jagannath Temple Administration.

-Each member of the Committee shall be responsible for due compliance with the conditions imposed by this Court and the general directions which govern ensuring of public health issued by the Union Government. In addition, the officers designated by the State Government for conduct of the Rath Yatra shall be responsible likewise.

-The rituals and the Rath Yatra shall be freely covered by the visual media. The State Government shall allow TV cameras to be installed at such places as may be found necessary by the TV crew.
-The bare minimum number of people shall be allowed by the Committee to participate in the rituals and in the Rath Yatra.

-The State Government may take such help as may be found necessary from the Union Government.

-The State Government shall maintain a record containing details of all those who have been allowed to participate in the Rath Yatra or the rituals connected therewith along with details of their medical conditions after testing.

(Edited By Bikram Keshari Jena)

Also Read: Rath Yatra 2020: Odisha Orders Curfew-Like Shutdown In Puri District

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