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Ahead of Chardham yatra, pilgrim rush chokes Haridwar

The four-day festive bath period, which saw turnout of more than two million pilgrims in Haridwar, once again exposed the traffic problems of the city

dehradun Updated: Apr 16, 2018 22:05 IST
Sandeep Rawat
Sandeep Rawat
Hindustan Times, Haridwar
Uttarakhand News
A traffic jam in Haridwar during festive season.(HT Photo)

The four-day festive bath period, which saw turnout of more than two million pilgrims in Haridwar, once again exposed the traffic problems of the city.

Baisakhi on April 13, Sakranti on April 14 and Somwati Amawasya on April 15-16 brought the city almost to a standstill, as visitors thronged the city in large numbers to take the holy bath. The road widening work on the National Highwat-58, which passes through Haridwar, worsened the traffic situation. Looking into the traffic congestion, entry of heavy vehicles was prohibited in the city during daytime.

With the Chard Dham pilgrimage scheduled to commence from April 28, the traffic situation in Haridwar, which is known as the entry gate to Garhwal, sends alarming signals, both for the pilgrims as well as for the authorities.

The road widening work on NH-58 (Haridwar-Dehradun stretch), initiated in 2010 on public-private-partnership mode, was expected to complete in February 2013. But five years after passing of the project deadline, there is no sign of its completion by the year-end.

Early this month, the National Green Tribunal had ordered the sealing of the hot mix plant of Era company — engaged in the road widening work — for not having a no-objection certificate, which further hampered the road construction work.

The Era company officials had claimed to complete the work on important stretches of NH-58 prior to the Char Dham pilgrimage season. But with just less than two weeks left, it is unlikely that they will be able to meet their promise.

District magistrate Deepak Rawat, who has been monitoring the highway work closely, recently inspected three flyovers on the highway – at Patanjali, Jwalapur and Singh Dwar — and directed the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and nodal agency officials to ensure that the work gets completed prior to the Char Dham pilgrimage and Kanwar fair. He also asked the company officials to complete work on two-dozen ‘black death’ spots from Narsain to Doodhadhari square, which are highly accident prone.

NHAI project manager PK Gusain said that they are committed for the safety of motorists and commuters. “Adequate measures are being taken to ensure hassle-free movement of pilgrims during Char Dham pilgrimage on this stretch,” he added.

Last month, the high court at Nainital had directed the state government to ensure completion of the Haridwar-Dehradun highway broadening work in a year, so as to ease traffic congestion on the stretch.

Saint community residing at Har-Ki-Pauri, Bhoopatwala, Khadkhadi, Neeldhara, Saptsarovar, adjacent to highway, are also perturbed over the delayed work. Jai Ram Ashram’s spiritual head Brahamswarup Brahamchari said that saints and pilgrims are facing major inconvenience due to the slow pace of highway work.

An official of the Era Company, on the condition of anonymity, said that they are “trying hard to meet the deadline”. Last month’s strike by 150 employees associated with the NH work, 80 of the Era Company and 70 contractual employees, had also hindered the work, the official added.

First Published: Apr 16, 2018 22:05 IST