With just a week left for the commencement of Kanwar Yatra, the Haridwar administration has said it is fully prepared for traffic and security challenges that the 13-day religious event may throw up. As part of the annual yatra, kanwariyas (devotees of Lord Shiva) from different parts of the country collect water from the Ganga river at Haridwar in Uttarakhand to offer at Shiva temples back home.
An unprecedented rush of kanwariyas is expected to throng the pilgrimage town during the yatra that is taking place after a gap of two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the entire administrative machinery is fully prepared to successfully host the event, Haridwar District Magistrate Vinay Shankar Pandey said. The 'Kanwar Pataris' (Kanwar yatra tracks) covering a distance of 50 km have been readied apart from all the facilities like toilets, drinking water and parking lots meant for the convenience of the kanwariyas, he said.
An arrangement has been made to park 22,000 buses at Bairagi camp, the DM said. Apart from the government and private hospitals which will take care of the devotees, 17 temporary medical camps are also being set up to provide healthcare facilities to them, he said. "There was no Kanwar yatra in Haridwar in 2020-21 due to the pandemic. In 2019 we received three crore Kanwariayas. With the Covid restrictions no longer there, we expect no less than 3.5 to 4 crore kanwariyas to visit Haridwar this time," the DM said.
The yatra is scheduled to be held from July 14 to July 26, he said. Pandey said as crowd management during the yatra is always a challenge, Haridwar has been divided into eight super zones, 27 zones and 100 sectors. Lighting arrangements on the yatra routes are being given final touches and everything will be in place by July 11-12, he said. Drone surveillance of the routes will be done round the clock and no devotee will be allowed to enter the town with spears and other weapons.
"They should come like true devotees, collect water from the Ganga and return," he said. Twelve companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have also been sought to manage the crowds during the yatra, Pandey said. An inter-state meeting of officials from Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand was held in Haridwar on Wednesday where it was decided that the kanwariyas coming to Uttarakhand must carry valid IDs which will be randomly checked at different border check points.
Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami has appealed to the Shiva devotees to plant a sapling each during their visit to Haridwar as a personal contribution to the Himalayan ecosystem. He has also suggested that the saplings they plant should also be named after them. Dhami will visit Haridwar on Friday to review the preparations for the yatra during which devotees from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana will come to Haridwar.
(With PTI Inputs)