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Helpless officials look on as devotees flout Covid-19 protocol in Andhra Pradesh

The Kanaka Durga Temple recorded a footfall of an average of 40,000 devotees during the nine days, official sources told The New Indian Express.

Published: 17th October 2021 09:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th October 2021 09:33 AM   |  A+A-

Bhavani Deeksha devotees at the ghat, where showers were arranged during Dasara  in Vijayawada.

Bhavani Deeksha devotees at the ghat, where showers were arranged during Dasara in Vijayawada. (Photo | Prasant Madugula, EPS)

By Express News Service

VIJAYAWADA: Covid-19 guidelines went for a toss on Friday and Saturday as scores of devotees, especially those who took Bhavani Deeksha, arrived at the Kanaka Durga Temple atop Indrakeeladri. Devotees were seen jostling with each other in queues to have a quick darshan. The situation outside was not far from different as large number of devotees spilling over the streets caused disruption to traffic. This led to basic Covid-appropriate behaviour like maintaining physical distance, wearing a mask and using sanitiser being violated.

Authorities of Sri Durga Malleswara Swamy Varla Devasthanam (SDMSD) estimated that more than three lakh devotees visited the temple during the festivities which started from October 7 and concluded on October 15. On Moola Nakshatram, the birth star of Goddess Kanaka Durga on October 12, more than one lakh devotees reportedly thronged the temple, officials said. 

Similarly, an unprecedented rush was observed on the last day of Dasara with several Bhavani devotees turning up to the temple. The temple officials, who initially announced that only 10,000 devotees on normal days and 30,000 devotees on Moola Nakshatram day will be allowed on time slot basis, failed to control the surge of devotees. 

The temple recorded a footfall of an average of 40,000 devotees during the nine days, official sources told The New Indian Express. However, temple officials claimed that they made elaborate arrangements for the festival and ensured every devotee followed Covid protocol. 

District Collector J Nivas said, "For a festival like Dasara, we cannot avoid devotees thronging to the temple which resulted in the violation of social distancing. But, we made foolproof arrangements and made sure that everyone wore a mask and underwent thermal scanning at the entry points at Canal and Om point atop Indrakeeladri." 

Nivas further said they cancelled VIP and special darshans in the wake of Bhavani devotees visiting the temple on Saturday and Sunday. He added, "Strict instructions were given to temple staff to not  allow vehicles atop the hill and maintain hygiene at Seethamma Vari Padalu and Krishnaveni ghat. Since we cannot impose restrictions on devotees to not visit the temple, we are focused on other measures to ensure the virus does not spread."



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