Hemkund Sahib yatra from May 25

Chandigarh: With reconstruction, rehabilitation of the victims of the 2013 cloudburst disaster and the Char Dham yatra taking centrestage in Uttarakhand politics, Chief Minister Harish Rawat today announced that pilgrimage to Kedarnath would resume on May 4 and to Badrinath on May 5. The pilgrimage to Hemkund Sahib will start from May 25.

The state will go to the polls on May 7. With other political parties like the BJP trying to corner the Congress government in Uttarakhand on the slow rehabilitation of people and reconstruction of the disaster-ravaged areas and creating a “wave” that the Char Dham yatra would not resume on time, Rawat has gone ahead and announced the schedule of the yatra.

He also elaborated on the arrangements made by his government to ensure that pilgrims do not face any problems. Rawat, who was in the city today to announce the schedule of the yatra, said that the pilgrimage would begin on May 2 with the opening of the Gangotri and Yamunotri gates, which will be followed by the opening of gates of Kedarnath on May 4 and Badrinath on May 5.

“Roads have been re-laid in the disaster-ravaged areas. All other civic facilities have been upgraded. There are more roadside amenities for pilgrims like eating joints and shelters,” he said.

In order to ensure the safety of pilgrims, Uttarakhand has raised a State Disaster Response Force and Volunteer Corps. Members of these forces will be travelling with each batch of pilgrims at all ‘dhams’ and at Hemkund Sahib.

At Kedarnath, the Uttarakhand Government is making arrangements to allow a batch of just 1,000 pilgrims at a time — 500 pilgrims to be stationed at camps before they reach Kedarnath and only 500 at Kedarnath shrine at a time.

The state government has created five base camps, 48 wayside amenities, seven ghats and 12 night shelters for the Char Dham yatra.

Rawat, without naming the BJP, admitted that his political opponents were making an issue out of the cloudburst disaster to gain political mileage.

“This saddens me and I hope that after polling on May 7, these political parties will again join hands with me for the reconstruction of disaster-affected areas and rehabilitation of people.”

The Uttarakhand Chief Minister said that the state government got a central assistance of Rs 7,700 crore for rehabilitation and reconstruction and Rs 300 crore has been received as donation. “We have already given compensation of Rs 5 lakh each for 4,118 persons who died or who are presumed to have died in the disaster. The disaster has impacted the state’s economy deeply and we are trying to come to terms with it,” he said.

Uneven development a poll issue:

Chief Minister Harish Rawat admitted that the “uneven” development in Uttarakhand has become a major issue in the Lok Sabha elections for the five seats in the state. However, he denied that the development was restricted only to Garhwal area while Kumaon area had been ignored. “We are trying to address the issue of uneven development, but development is uneven in border areas…and in areas away from the border,” he said. He denied that there would be any negative impact of Satpal Maharaj leaving the party and joining the BJP or that seven Congress MLAs were about to quit the Congress. “The party is very strong and even Amrita Rawat (Satpal Maharaj’s wife) is the star campaigner for Congress there,” he said.

Source: The Tribune

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