The Uttarakhand government has arranged a special prayer on Wednesday for a select gathering at the Kedarnath shrine, which is expected to be re-opened for general public next month, more than four months after devastating floods ravaged the state on June 16.
Uttarakhand chief minister Vijay Bahuguna told HT that he will hold a review meeting on September 30 to decide the date of re-opening the temple for pilgrims.
“If we decide to open the shrine for regular prayers next month, only medically fit pilgrims will be allowed to pay obeisance,” he said.
The state government’s choppers will be used to ferry the pilgrims till the road leading to the temple and the surrounding areas are cleared of debris.
Taking a leaf out of the Jammu and Kashmir government’s book, the authorities in Uttarakhand have also decided to regulate the pilgrim traffic by allowing only registered devotees to visit the temple shrine.
Bahuguna also said a Kedarnath Development Authority would be set up to work in close coordination with central agencies for a planned and structured reconstruction of the town based on expert advice.
“The work is going on a war-footing since our state’s economy is dependant largely on religious tourism. We have suffered heavily due to natural calamity but the state government is determined to restore normalcy,” he said.
But the move to hold special prayers on September 11 has evoked sharp criticism from the main Opposition BJP which charged the Congress government with diverting the attention from its failure to provide relief to flood-ravaged villages even almost three months after the disaster.
The state administration has also decided to resume the Badrinath pilgrimage from October and the Hemkund yatra by the end of this month.