Sensing trouble owing to a series of low-intensity earthquakes that struck the Uttarakhand hills recently the State government has directed officials to initiate all necessary measures required for the safety of pilgrims before the famed Char Dham Yatra (pilgrimage) commences on May 16.
Incidentally, the Char Dhams fall in the geologically volatile high altitude region of the Uttarakhand Himalayas. This whole region has been categorised as "Zone V" owing to its susceptibility to seismic events. "Char Dhams" or four fabled religious destinations of Hindus are namely Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamnotri.
Besides, the entire "Char Dhams" circuit owing to its mountainous terrain is also highly prone to road accidents.
"In view of these factors we have directed the officials to initiate all necessary measures required for the safety of thousands of pilgrims who will be visiting the hallowed Char Dhams in the next six months," said Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Disaster Management Khajan Das.
He informed that besides the ex-gratia fund meant for victims of road accidents and natural disasters the Department of Disaster Management has already released to the districts, it (Department of Disaster Management) has also been directed to immediately release an extra fund of Rs 1 crore to the District Magistrates.
"Besides, in view of a series of low-intensity earthquakes that struck the region recently the Department of Disaster Management and district authorities have also been put on alert to deal with any such event if it occurs during the Yatra period," he said.
Saying that in that connection rescue and relief centres are active in eight districts he said the officials concerned "have been directed to expedite the process of setting up similar centres in other five districts as well, so that immediate relief could be provided to affected people in case earthquakes or such disasters strike the Char Dham circuits in the coming months.
"Besides, equipment required to carry out rescue and relief operations have also been made available at the Tehsil level as well," Das said.