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HindustanTimes Fri,26 Dec 2014

Safety app for Kedarnath pilgrims this year: Rawat

Press Trust of India  New Delhi, March 10, 2014
First Published: 17:50 IST(10/3/2014) | Last Updated: 17:54 IST(10/3/2014)

Pilgrims to Kedarnath this year can use special mobile apps for their safety and alert authorities during emergencies.

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With the sacred portals of the Himalayan shrine, which bore the brunt of flash floods last year, slated to be thrown open to devotees on May 4, the Uttarakhand government is gearing up.

Chief minister Harish Rawat said his government will use modern technology including special mobile apps for pilgrims to provide a safe and smooth yatra.

“Our first challenge is to ensure safety of pilgrims and we will use modern technology for that. We will strengthen our telecom network and will provide special mobile apps to the pilgrims at the time of registration,” Rawat, who took over charge from Vijay Bahuguna last month, said.

“They can press them if they are in any danger and remain connected with the headquarters. It’s just like women safety mobile apps. We will establish the headquarters in Bheembali and Guptkashi,” Rawat said. He said his government is also seeking special satellites for getting advanced information about any climatic change.

“Had those satellites been installed earlier, the damage would not have been to that scale last year. We are trying to get some satellites to know about the climatic changes in advance,” the former water resources minister said. He also said that BSNL network in the state will be upgraded and all funds have been sanctioned for this.

“We will strengthen BSNL network here. State government has sanctioned the necessary funds for that. We are in talks with two-three companies for mobile apps and one has already given presentation. We will implement this as soon as the yatra begins,” he said, but did not elaborate on the technicalities of the apps.


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more from Dehradun

‘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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