Uttarakhand tourism minister Satpal Maharaj reviewed the Char Dham yatra preparations in Kedarnath on Friday. However, he decided to do the review from a chopper and this has drawn flak from local Congress MLA Manoj Rawat.
The Kedarnath shrine will open for pilgrims on May 3. Rawat, who criticised the minister for taking the aerial route for inspection, is infuriated with the slow pace of ground works and the minister’s “superficial review” of the region.
“The ground works are incomplete. Not all pilgrims can afford a chopper service and if the tourism minister actually wanted to review the preparations, he should have gone there on foot and not by a chopper,” Rawat told local mediapersons.
Rubbishing Rawat’s claim, Maharaj said, “There’s no lacuna in the preparations for Kedarnath yatra. As far as my aerial visit is concerned, I closely monitored the region and assessed all routes.”
Maharaj while talking to Hindustan Times over the phone said that he also visited Chorabari, which was the main source of floods in 2013, and said that there are is no water accumulation in the area.
He also added that photo metric identification will be started for pilgrims. It will be linked with the pilgrims’ aadhaar card so that details could be tabulated. Besides, online registration is done to ascertain the identity of all pilgrims. “We are cautious and will not want to leave any stone unturned to ensure security of pilgrims. We are taking all measures to generate a database of pilgrims coming to Char Dham,” he said.
He said that there are still a few places in Kedarnath which are snow clad and work is on to remove snow from the routes. “The Gaurikund-Kedarnath route is with the Public Works Department (PWD) and the Rudraprayag-Gaurikund with National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). I have appointed officers from each of the departments to review these routes and ensure safety of pilgrims,” he said.
Maharaj also visited Badrinath to review the preparations and an 800-metre stretch near Lambagarh is worrying the minister. “This path is highly vulnerable, I have ordered NH officers to ensure that the boulders that fall naturally do not cause accidents,” he added.