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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014

Religious leader demands separate pilgrimage ministry

PTI   Dehradun, June 28, 2013
First Published: 18:45 IST(28/6/2013) | Last Updated: 18:48 IST(28/6/2013)

With Kedarnath shrine in Garhwal Himalayas suffering extensive damage in the recent calamity in Uttarakhand, a leading seer on Friday asked the Centre to constitute a separate pilgrimage ministry to frame a code of conduct for people visiting shrines in high altitudes.

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"A separate ministry to govern the affairs of pilgrimage centres in the Himalayas is the need of the hour," Chief of Govardhan Math Puri Shankaracharya Swami Adhokchajanand Teerth told reporters in Haridwar.

Swami Adhokchajanand also asked the government to declare Himalayas as an ecologically conserved zone.

"We demand that the Centre should act on the proposal of declaring the Himalayas as an ecologically sensitive zone and frame a code of conduct for people visiting the Himalayan shrines of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Vaishnodevi, Mansarovar and Amarnath," Swami Adhokchajanand said.

He said the Centre should also constitute a high-level advisory panel comprising distinguished religious leaders and dharmacharyas to offer guidelines to the proposed pilgrimage ministry.

A policy must be framed for conservation of the ecology of the Himalayas which is also of great strategic importance to India, he said.

The Himalayan shrine of Kedarnath was one of the worst hit areas in the recent calamity that occurred in Uttarakhand. PTI ALM

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