Kolkata, India: India’s home secretary on Saturday chaired a meeting to review the state preparedness and actions taken to curb the influx of tourists dotting hill statins amid Covid.
Social media was rife last week with images of some of India’s most popular hill stations with tourists crowding the downtowns as states relaxed covid curbs amid a waning second wave Covid.
Manali was once again bustling with tourists flocking to Solang, Vashisht, and the newest attraction, the Rohtang tunnel, after nearly 15 months of hiatus.
According to a report, within a fortnight of the state government announcing Covid relaxations (on June 14), 23,900 outside cars had paid the Kullu Tourism Development Council’s green tax.
Saturday’s meeting examined the actions taken by state governments to combat COVID-19 in hill stations and tourist destinations, DD News reported.
The overall management of the COVID-19 situation and vaccination status in the states of Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, and West Bengal were discussed during the meeting in New Delhi.
These were the states that saw an influx of tourists, most flouting social distancing and flocking the popular destinations in unhealthy numbers.
In light of media reports indicating flagrant contempt for COVID-appropriate behavior in hill stations and other tourist destinations, the Union Home Secretary issued a warning.
He emphasized that the second wave of COVID was not yet over, and states should ensure that the regulations for mask use, social separation, and other safe behavior were strictly followed.
The tourism rebound was followed by a decrease of the second wave that has been noticed in various stages across the country’s States and Union Territories.
While the general case positivity rate is dropping, several districts in Rajasthan, Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, and Himachal Pradesh have case positivity rates of over 10%, which is cause for concern.
States were also required to follow the COVID Appropriate Behaviour and Test-Track-Treat-Vaccinate five-step plan.
During the discussion, it was also recommended that adequate health infrastructure be put in place, particularly in rural, peri-urban, and tribal regions, in order to deal with any potential future rise of cases.
Dr. V.K. Paul, a member of the NITI Aayog, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, Director General, ICMR, and Chief Secretaries, Directors General of Police, and Principal Secretaries (Health) from the eight states attended the conference.