Pilgrimage scheme: Delhi health dept asked to remove Covid clause | Delhi News

by Rahul Devi

The Delhi government’s Tirth Yatra scheme, which allows people aged 60 and above to go on pilgrimage tours, has been facing criticism due to the mandatory requirement of Covid vaccination certificates. Tirth Yatra Vikas Samiti, a Delhi government agency responsible for organizing religious events, has written a letter to the health department requesting the removal of this clause.

The Tirth Yatra scheme was launched in 2018 but was suspended during the Covid-19 pandemic. It was resumed in February 2022 with additional precautions, including the mandatory vaccination certificate requirement. However, now that Covid-induced restrictions have been lifted and random tests for travelers have been discontinued, officials believe that applicants should not be forced to carry vaccination certificates.

A senior Delhi government official stated that the Tirth Yatra Vikas Samiti initially wrote to the revenue department, but was later asked to address the issue to the health minister. The health department is expected to make a decision on this matter soon. Once the condition is removed, the revenue department will make the necessary changes to the online application form.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal flagged off the 79th batch of pilgrims at Thyagraj Stadium on Thursday. This batch consisted of 780 pilgrims who were headed to Rameswaram from Delhi. Kejriwal mentioned that the pilgrimage tour to Rameswaram has been quite popular, with 22 trains carrying around 20,000-22,000 pilgrims being flagged off so far.

The move to make vaccination certificates mandatory for the Tirth Yatra scheme was undoubtedly aimed at ensuring the safety and well-being of the pilgrims. However, with the easing of Covid-related restrictions and the availability of other precautionary measures, the requirement of vaccination certificates may no longer be necessary.

As the vaccination campaign progresses and more people become fully vaccinated, the risk of Covid-19 transmission reduces significantly. This, coupled with the lifting of restrictions and the absence of random tests at the airport, makes it reasonable to reconsider the need for vaccination certificates for the Tirth Yatra scheme participants.

It is important to strike a balance between ensuring public health and allowing people to exercise their religious beliefs and undertake these pilgrimage tours. While vaccination is an effective tool in controlling the spread of the virus, it should not be the sole determinant for participation in religious activities. Other measures such as providing hand sanitizers, encouraging mask-wearing, and maintaining social distancing can also play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of the pilgrims.

The health department should carefully assess the current situation, taking into account the vaccination rates, the overall Covid-19 situation, and the availability of other protective measures. Based on this evaluation, a decision should be made regarding the continuation of the vaccination certificate requirement for the Tirth Yatra scheme.

In conclusion, the request made by Tirth Yatra Vikas Samiti to remove the mandatory vaccination certificate clause for the Delhi government’s Tirth Yatra scheme deserves careful consideration. While the aim to safeguard the health of the pilgrims is commendable, it is essential to reevaluate the necessity of this requirement in light of the changing circumstances. Ultimately, the priority should be to strike a balance between public health and the religious sentiments of the participants.

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