High Court pulls up Uttarakhand govt for violation of SOPs in tourist places
Nainital, July 28:The Uttarakhand High Court on Wednesday pulled up the state government for the violation of COVID-19 SOPs in tourist places and extended the stay on the Chardham Yatra until the matter pending in the Supreme Court is decided.
Observing that 75 percent of tourists coming to Nainital were not following the COVID-19 SOPs contributing to a rise in positive cases last week, a division bench comprising Chief Justice RS Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma expressed concern over the increasing crowds at tourist places on weekends and inquired about the steps taken to control them.
The high court had put a stay on the Chardham Yatra on June 28 in view of the risks involved in conducting the pilgrimage amid the pandemic after which the state government had approached the Supreme Court. However, the apex court is yet to hear the matter.
During the hearing on a bunch of PILs related to the state government's preparations for the yatra amid the pandemic, advocate Shiv Bhatt said the SLP presented by the government regarding the Chardham Yatra has not yet been heard in the Supreme Court, so the order banning Chardham Yatra should be taken forward.
Since the stay issued by the High Court was to expire on Wednesday, it was duly extended until the next date of hearing, which is August 18, or till the Supreme Court decides the matter. The court directed the state to file a detailed reply on a slew of issues related to the COVID situation and health facilities by August 18.
The court asked district authorities about how they planned to control crowds at tourists spots. The court observed that in Nainital itself, 75 percent of tourists are not following the SOPs, while no one is following social distancing.
Due to this, 10 Covid-19 positive cases were reported in Nainital last week, it said. The court asked as to how many cases have been registered against people disobeying COVID-19 SOPs. The court also asked the state government about the number of vacancies of doctors, nurses and technical staff in government hospitals and about the steps taken to fill them.
The high court asked the district hospitals to bring forth the actual status of ambulances. It asked for a detailed report on the number of ambulances in district hospitals, their condition and the requirement for new ones. Health Secretary Amit Negi apprised the court that there are 95 blocks in the state.
The state has 54 ambulances of 108 service and 41 more ambulances are required to provide one ambulance in each block. For this, an application has been sent to the Union Ministry of Health. The court also directed the officials responsible for the ongoing vaccination in the state to personally monitor it.
The court said that the number of vaccination centers that have been set up is not sufficient and asked as to what was the government doing to provide vaccination to the disabled people. On the matter of honorarium of intern doctors, the court said arrangements should be made to give them their "held-up" honorarium.