Uttarakhand sets up more counters to register Char Dham pilgrims

  • Neha Pant, Hindustan Times, Dehradun
  • Updated: May 07, 2016 21:17 IST
Char Dham pilgrims wait for their turn at a photometric registration counter in Rishikesh. (HT Photo)

The Uttarakhand government will record details of pilgrims coming for the Char Dham Yatra at 52 photometric registration counters.

The counters, set up at 16 centres on the way to the four shrines, will record visitors’ details — name, place, contact number (also of team leaders/tour operators), vehicle registration number, the destination shrine and the date of return. Their photographs will also be clicked.

Alert messages on weather updates, landslides and roadblocks will be sent to the pilgrims during their stay in the state.

The Uttarakhand government was caught unawares when flashfloods hit the state in June 2013, leaving more than 5000 dead and thousands displaced. Kedarnath, one of the four shrines of the Char Dham Yatra circuit, was the worst hit but the government did not have details about the pilgrims that left several bodies unidentified or unclaimed.

The government introduced photometric registration of the Char Dham pilgrims in 2014 to have a data bank on their details. Around 2.8 lakh pilgrims visited the state that year.

Last year, the government raised the number of pilgrim registration counters to 35 set up at 11 centres in the Garhwal region. Around 8.7 lakh pilgrims visited the state during the yatra season in 2015.

More photometric counters have been set up this year as the state is expecting a higher turnout of pilgrims. “We are getting a lot of queries and are hoping the figure to cross the 15-lakh mark this time,” additional director (tourism) AK Dwivedi told HT.

The portals of Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri will be thrown open to pilgrims on May 9 and of Badrinath on May 11.

Sriniwas M, regional head of Trilok Security Systems which is handling the photometric operations for Char Dham Yatra, said the process, to be completed in a minute’s time, would ensure security to pilgrims and smooth functioning of the yatra.

“With photometric registrations, the administration can have an exact number of pilgrims visiting the shrines at a given time thereby ensuring efficient mass management even during peak/rush pilgrim inflow,” he told HT.

The registration is not ‘biometric’ in which a person is uniquely identified by evaluating one or more distinguishing biological traits like finger prints or retina/iris patterns.

In 2015, photometric centres were set up at Haridwar railway station, roadways bus stand and Hemkund Gurudwara at Rishikesh, Jankichatti, Gangotri, Guptkashi, Phata, Sonprayag, Kedarnath, Pandukeshwar and Govindghat. This year, additional centers have been set up at Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Parking in Haridwar, Heena and Dobata in Uttarkashi, Augustmuni and Sitapur areas.

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