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Coronavirus: Despite ban on large gatherings, lakhs to gather in Ayodhya for Ram Navami

Uttar Pradesh government to go ahead with the Ayodhya Ram Navami Mela to be held from March 25 to April 2, despite coronavirus fears

Coronavirus: Despite ban on large gatherings, lakhs to gather in Ayodhya for Ram Navami
New Delhi, First Published Mar 18, 2020, 12:31 PM IST
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New Delhi: The district administration is gearing up to hold mega Ram Navami mela despite the coronavirus scare and concerns expressed by many including the chief medical officer of Ayodhya about the health risk posed by a large congregation of 10 lakh devotees.

District magistrate Anuj Kumar Jha said the Uttar Pradesh government has notified the Epidemic Act and the district administration is being empowered to take all steps to stop coronavirus.

"All orders are being issued according to the act and violation of the act will be punishable," said.

Jha said the administration has printed 50,000 posters highlighting precautions against coronavirus and these are being pasted at public places.

He said the district administration is all prepared for the Ram Navami celebrations according to practice and will adopt all precautionary measures.

Chief medical officer of Ayodhya Ghanshyam Singh had advised that the Ram Navami mela be cancelled to save the public from coronavirus.

Dr Vikasendu Agrawal, nodal officer of coronavirus, said mass gatherings are impossible and risky once the Epidemic Act is invoked.

"We have closed down shopping malls, cinema halls, swimming pools, gyms and schools in the state. It is very difficult to ensure that devotees wear masks or maintain distance of 1.5 m from each other. It's an impossible proposition," he said, adding he will talk to senior state government officials.

"We will review the situation on March 22 and if the situation remains the same then I would suggest the government to avoid the gathering," he added.

Reacting to these suggestions, Ayodhya MLA Ved Gupta said, "We can't stop the devotees. They would be advised to wear masks and maintain a distance while conducting rituals."

According to sources, the functionaries engaged with organising the mela feel it is impossible to screen lakhs of devotees.

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