Chief minister Harish Rawat speaks about the problems faced by the government in reconstruction of Kedarpuri township. Excerpts from the interview.
Q) Why has the state government not been able to clear the debris at Kedarnath shrine area that has prevented reconstruction works for nearly one-and-half years?
A) It’s not that the state is unable to work there but that will be done in a proper way and order. Being a popular government, all stake-holders of Kedarpuri have to be taken into confidence, be it priests community, local public, recommendations of the expert agencies or Badri-Kedar Temple Committee. Consultation and assessment process takes time but it will be over soon and work will take off.
Q) It’s believed that a tug-of-war between the Kedarnath priests’ association and the state government is responsible for the deadlock.
A) There is no difference of opinion between the priests’ community and the state government. In fact, the government wants to move forward on the township issue with them. They have their concerns and we have to address it as per their convenience. We are also seeking opinion of other political outfits in the state as well.
Q) How can the government accept demands of the priests for reconstruction of Kedarpuri township at the same site when the Geological Survey of India (GSI) is against it?
A) The government cannot ignore the GSI report and its recommendations but at the same time the demands of priests have also be to be taken into account. We will have to take a middle path and find a balanced solution between the two extremities. We have already decided on partial construction of township and process is on to resolve the issues with all stake-holders. It will be done and debris clearing works will begin soon.
Q) The new 14-km pedestrian route between Rambara and Kedarnath is being questioned for its difficult topography and concerns over safety of pilgrims compared to the previous road?
A) This was the best available option with the government to resume the Char Dham pilgrimage on time. The topography is a bit steeper but due care has been taken to minimise its impact as much as possible at several spots. In view of this difficulty we have also created several resting points for pilgrims at fixed intervals. However, it’s not that work is over on the pedestrian trek in question. It’s still on and permanent safety measures will be put in place by next season.