DEHRADUN: Cleanliness is next to godliness. But in its preparations for the Chardham pilgrimage, the Uttarakhand government probably overlooked the importance of timely release of funds meant for sanitation management to cash-strapped local bodies.
The local bodies in seven districts, which fall en route on the pilgrimage circuit, had sought around Rs 21 crore from the government to take care of waste management during the Chardham Yatra that began on April 28. Instead, the government sanctioned only Rs 1.5 crore – or just 7% of the total funds sought – so far.
Sources, meanwhile, said garbage generation is up by 40% in Rudraprayag, Tehri, Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Pauri, Dehradun and Haridwar - the districts falling on the Chardham route.
This year, the yatra began with the opening of the portals of Gangotri and Yamunotri shrines on April 28, followed by Kedarnath and Badrinath on May 3 and 6. Over 1.54 lakh pilgrims have already visited the shrines till May 7.
“We sought Rs 35 lakh but were sanctioned only Rs 10 lakh, which is almost nothing considering the load (of garbage disposal and cleanliness services) we’re facing due to heavy footfall of pilgrims,” Jayendri Rana, chairperson of Uttarkashi municipal board told HT. The municipality, located en route the Gangotri shrine, has suspended its plan to hire around 30 additional sanitation workers.
Similarly, the local body in Rishikesh, which is considered to be the gateway to all the four shrines, has got only Rs 15 lakh against its demand of Rs 67 lakh. “We were promised an additional sum of Rs15 lakh but we’ll be falling short of more than the 50% funds we need to run sanitation services,” Rishikesh municipal board chairperson Deep Sharma told HT, adding that the town was receiving more than 40,000 to 50,000 tourists daily. “We decided to hire additional sanitation workers only for three months instead of the entire six- month yatra period.”
Harak Singh Rawat, additional commissioner of the Garhwal region, asserted efforts were on to seek more funds from the government. “We have sent a proposal for releasing more funds for the local bodies so that they can manage sanitation services properly amid the heavy pilgrim influx,” said Rawat, who is also officer on special duty with Yatra Prashasan Sangathan that is looking after the pilgrimage operations.