Lucknow: At a time when the entire world is practising ‘social distancing’ in the wake of coronavirus outbreak, the Yogi Adityanth government has given a go-ahead for the ‘Ram Navami Mela’ in Ayodhya, while going against its own advisories against large gatherings. Also Read - Football: UEFA Denies August 3 Deadline For Champions League Conclusion

The mela which will be held from March 25 to April 2, is expected to attract around 10 lakh devotees from across the country and is deemed special as it will be the first after the Supreme Court paved the way for the construction of a Ram Temple at Ayodhya. Also Read - Shahid Afridi, Jahangir Khan Come Forward to Help Minorities in Fighting Coronavirus Pandemic

Announcing that Ram Navami will be celebrated as per tradition, District Magistrate Anuj Kumar Jha told TOI, ”The administration will issue a timely advisory for people and will take all necessary care of the health of the devotees.” Also Read - Pakistan: Coronavirus Cases Cross 3,000-Mark, Govt Taking Measures to Curtail Its Spread

The Ayodhya Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Ghanshyam Singh, meanwhile has raised concerns over the expected mass gathering and claimed that the Uttar Pradesh government did not have the infrastructure to screen or hand out masks to lakhs of pilgrims, as per a report in The Print.

“I have flagged the issue, now it is up to the administration to take a call. I believe that life is more important than religious gatherings. However, no positive case has been found yet in our district.” Singh said.

However, the administration called Singh’s claims fake and reiterated the Ram Navami mela will be held as scheduled, adding that arrangements will be made to keep people safe.

The chief priest of Ram Lalla Mahant Satyendra Das also said that there is no question of shifting the Ram Navmi Mela, as it is a matter of faith for crores of people.

“Ayodhya faced so many issues, but the mela has never been stopped. The authorities should make proper arrangements for sanitisation and other facilities instead of suggesting not to hold the mela. People’s sentiments will be hurt, along with the business getting affected if the mela is cancelled.”

According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, so far 13 positive cases have been reported from Uttar Pradesh. Due to the outbreak, the UP government has decided to extend the closure of educational institutions in the state till April 2.