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HindustanTimes Sat,01 Nov 2014

Sustenance is our priority, not polls, say Kedar residents

Deep Joshi  Dehradun, March 15, 2014
First Published: 16:39 IST(15/3/2014) | Last Updated: 16:45 IST(15/3/2014)

DEHRADUN: The poll fever may be building up in the rest of the country ahead of the general elections, but the people in Uttarakhand’s disaster-hit Kedar valley are indifferent to the world’s biggest democratic exercise, as they continue to reel under the last June’s deluge.

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“Nobody is interested in elections here,” said a dismissive Damodar Prasad Goswami, a resident of the rain-hit Kedar valley’s remote Gaurigaon village. “My main worry is how I will sustain my large family of 12 after the hotel I once owned was washed away on the night of June 18 last year,” he said.

Incidentally, the hotel that the 36-year-old ran at Gaurikund - a kilometre away from Gaurigaon on the Chardham pilgrimage route and about 23km from the fabled Kedarnath shrine - was his only source of income.

This is the story of most of the residents of Gaurigaon, who earned their living by renting their lodges to pilgrims. Like Goswami, the residents here have had their hotels washed away due to the devastating floods.

Tragically, the stories are the same in around 100 villages in the Kedar valley. They were dependent on the Chardham yatra for their livelihood. While some rented their lodges to pilgrims, others ferried them on dandis (palanquins) or on mules to Kedarnath.

They have more pressing issues to look at than the general elections. Like the Kedarnath highway between Rudraprayag and Gaurikund lying ravaged even eight months after the flash floods.

“The Congress government has failed to rebuild that 68-km stretch of the Kedarnath national highway which is the lifeline of the Chardham area,” said Devi Prasad Goswami, a shop owner and a resident of Silli, a village in Agastyamuni.

“The Chardham yatra is scheduled to begin on May 4. How will the government complete the work in the next two months?” he wondered. Incidentally, the disaster has had its impact also on children’s education.


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