'Char Dham yatra' restarts May, Uttarakhand assures safety
Posted on Apr 23 2014 | IANS
Chandigarh, April 23 : The Uttarakhand government has assured pilgrims of facilities and safety measures during the "Char Dham" and "Hemkund Sahib Yatra" in the hill state as it restarts May this year.
This is the first time that pilgrimage is being allowed to religious places in Uttarakhand after last year's natural disaster in June left hundreds dead and many missing.
"As part of the safety measures and to keep better track of all pilgrims coming for 'Char Dham Yatra', the state government is making registration system mandatory," Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat told the media here Wednesday.
"We want to ensure safety of pilgrims by making registration mandatory for all pilgrims undertaking the yatra. Registration counters will be set up at entry points of the state and also on yatra routes," he said.
The pilgrimage was stopped June last year after cloudbursts and massive rainfall devastated the Hindu pilgrimage centres of Badrinath and Kedernath and other places of tourist and pilgrims' interest. The natural disaster also affected the Sikh pilgrimage centre of Hemkund Sahib. Most of the areas remained cut off from the rest of the country for weeks together.
The state government has, last month, issued a few directives making government departments responsible for safe and enjoyable journey of visitors, Rawat said.
Thousands of pilgrims go to the shrines between the months of May and September every year.
"The yatra will begin May 2 with the opening of Yamunotri and Gangotri gates. This will be followed by the opening of gates of Kedarnath May 4, Badrinath May 5 and Hemkund Sahib May 25," Rawat announced.
The chief minister said the state government has created five base camps, 48 wayside amenities, seven ghats and 12 night shelters for the pilgrims.
"Instructions have been issued to ensure that work on roads and infrastructure will be completed by April 30," Rawat said.
"A special task force comprising police and Nehru Institute of Mountaineering personnel has been set up in Uttarkashi for the Kedarnath route from Bhimbali," an officer of the Uttarakhand Tourism said.
"Mobile towers and PCO booths have been erected at every 15 km of the route while mobile hospitals and medical camps established for the pilgrims," he added.