The Uttarakhand government is all set for the six-month-long Char Dham pilgrimage which starts from April 21 this year, state tourism minister Dinesh Dhanai said on Tuesday.
The pilgrimage had received comparatively less footfall last year in the wake of 2013 floods which had claimed over 4000 lives and caused the maximum damage in the Kedarnath area, one of the four pilgrim centres. The remaining three are Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri.
After a review meeting with the top officials on Tuesday, Dhani told media persons that the state was expecting an increase in number of pilgrims this time for whom extraordinary arrangements had already been made.
Special care has been taken for the safety of pilgrims at the landslide-prone zones in Lambagar and Sirobagar which fall on the way to Badrinath.
Over 3000 pilgrims could easily stay at Kedarnath at a time, the minister said, adding that the work at some places was still on but they would be completed in the remaining 14 days.
He admitted that the weather conditions were bad at all the four pilgrim centres due to rain and snow.
But, he allayed fears and said that the work was on to clear the snow covered roads and expressed confidence that by the time the pilgrimage began, all the routes would be free for a safe pilgrimage.
The minister said the Border Road Organsiation (BRO) was working in coordination with the Uttarakhand public works department (PWD) to clear
He said special measures had been taken for the safety of pilgrims at the landslide zones, where two teams of the State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF) would remain deployed during the pilgrimage.
The teams were not only trained in rescue operations but also in digging out alternate routes in case of a landslide blocking the main roads, he said.
He said JCBs and dozers should be stationed intelligently enroute to the temples so that they can be pressed into service in case of a major road blockade.
Arrangements have also been made to set up a quick telephonic communication network at the high altitude with the help of BSNL to organise relief operations in case of an emergency. “We will shortly have talks with the union communication secretary to provide 3G services at Sonprayag and Badrinath base camps,” the minister said.