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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Dec 2014

Char Dham yatra: Rain, snowfall play spoilsport; stranded pilgrims head back

Arvind Moudgil  Rudraprayag, May 13, 2014
First Published: 23:24 IST(13/5/2014) | Last Updated: 23:28 IST(13/5/2014)

Rain and snowfall on the higher Himalayan ranges have lowered the temperature on the hills of Garhwal and disrupted the Char Dham Yatra.

There were reports of rain and snowfall at Kedarnath on Tuesday morning also. All those who were stranded at Kedarnath or on the 16-km long pedestrian route from Gaurikund to the Kedarnath temple have been escorted back safely to Sonprayag and no registrations are being made for the Kedarnath yatra till the weather gets amiable.

Many pilgrims from other states are stranded at places from Rudraprayag onwards to Guptkashi and Sonprayag while some of them are reported to have returned without visiting the holy shrine.

More than 75 vehicles are reported to be stranded near Narsingh temple at Joshimath as the road is blocked at Lambagar and Benakuli on Badrinath route. The glacier is also reported to have come down on the motor road near Dugdh Ganga. Many pilgrims are coming back from Joshimath as the weather was inclement even on Tuesday morning and there was no definite news when the road would open for the yatra.

CS Napalchayal, commissioner Garhwal, said the yatra to Yamnotri and Gangotri is also being temporarily suspended, keeping in view the safety of the pilgrims because the 5-km long pedestrian track beyond Janki Chatt to Yamnotri could be tricky and the motor road beyond Harshil towards Gangotri in Uttarkashi district could be challenging during rains. District magistrates of Chamoli, Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi have been asked to send a team of officials to survey the routes and till then the Chardham Yatra would remain suspended, said Napalchayal. He added that no bio-metric registration of pilgrims is being done at Rishikesh and onwards till the weather relents and favourable reports come from all the Char Dham routes.

It is mid-May but the intermittent rains in the hills have started testing the preparedness of the government and the patience of the locals. Local residents were waiting for the yatra to resume so that the economy could get a boost.

The inclement weather is being hard on the pilgrims also who had come to Kedarnath and Badrinath from far off places but had to go back without making it to the shrines.


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‘Central aid to state rose in past 3 yrs, but growth slow’

The annual assistance from the Centre to the state has increased in last few financial years, according to official statistics, even though the Uttarakhand government has been firing salvos at the central government over it.
 
Two days ago, the state Congress unit demanded `4,000 crore financial assistance from the centre.
According to the central statistics office figures, the Centre released `4883.74 crores for the state in 2011-12. It released `4717.68 crores in 2012-2013. And in 2013-2014, it increased the assistance to `5418.60 crores.

Uttarakhand is one of the 11 Himalayan states which enjoy special category status besides Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim.
 
These special category states have to make part payment to the centre in lieu of getting funds for centrally-sponsored schemes.
Interestingly, on an average, central assistance has been substantial for the state though it has not helped Uttarakhand in increasing its Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) which is total monetary value of goods and services produced by a state economy in a given year.
“GSDP depends on various factors like rate of savings and investments and overall business atmosphere. But that doesn’t mean the state does not need help,” said Surender Kumar, media in-charge for CM adding that the state needs more funds.
 
The figures for Uttarakhand GSDP growth at constant (2004-5) price (as on 01-08-2014) was 9.36% in 2011-12. It was 5.61% in 2012-13 and 5.65% in 2013-2014.
 
Sometime back Planning Commission constituted a committee to study development in hill states arising from management of forest land with special focus on creation of infrastructure, livelihood and human development.
 
The report of the committee was discussed in Internal Planning Committee meeting held in February this year.
A Planning Commission note claimed that IPC broadly endorsed the recommendations of the committee. The report has also been forwarded to states for further inputs.

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