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Saints to protest over slow pace of NH-58 expansion

The saint community wants the work that missed deadline nearly 5 years ago to complete before the 2021 Mahakumbh in Haridwar

dehradun Updated: Jun 17, 2018 22:04 IST
Sandeep Rawat
Sandeep Rawat
Hindustan Times, Haridwar
Massive congestion being witnessed in Haridwar for the past few months on daily basis owing to delayed expansion work of NH-58. (RAMESHWAR GAUR/HT PHOTO)

The saint community wants the work that missed deadline nearly 5 years ago to complete before the 2021 Mahakumbh in Haridwar.

To ensure their movement gets support from all saint organisations and Akhadas, representatives of Bharat Sadhu Samaj are reaching out to prominent seers and Akhada heads.

Irrespective of their proximity to political parties, saints are extending their support to this movement as during this peak pilgrim season devotees get affected due to the delayed expansion work.

Bharat Sadhu Samaj is a pan India organisation of seers. Its state unit president Swami Devanand Saraswati said Haridwar was a major pilgrim city as seers consist more than 30% its population.

He said it was their responsibility to raise civic issues. “Pilgrims as well as local people has been facing major inconvenience for the past few years due to slow pace and stalling of construction work for varied reasons,” said Saraswati.

“Laxity by NHAI, project’s nodal agency Era Infra and lack of concern from local public representatives have led to this situation. We are contemplating on initially staging symbolic protest at VIP ghat opposite to Har-Ki-Pauri, adjacent to highway, to draw attention of the concerned agencies,” said Saraswati.

Citing inconvenience to Chardham-bound pilgrims, Chetan Jyoti ashram spiritual head Swami Rishiswaranand said a large number of saints has agreed to participate in this agitation - date of which would be finalised soon.

Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari, Rishiswaranand said, announced in 2016 that Haridwar-Dehradun four-lane work would get completed by December 2016. But, almost 18 months have passed with more than 30% work still pending, he added.

Mahamandaleshwar Swami Harichetnanand Maharaj of Jai Ram ashram, who is equally regarded by both the BJP and Congress, said there was unrest among local people, pilgrims, devotees and tourists, so how come the saint community remains untouched by this problem.

When contacted, a site official of Era Infra said the company was in talks with Punjab-based Grover company for fund and thereafter, a proposal will be submitted to NHAI. If approved, then work will resume on the national highway.

Earlier this week, the Uttarakhand high court asked the central and state governments and NHAI to reply within three weeks time, reasons for the delay in completion of NH broadening work on Roorkee-Haridwar-Dehradun NH-58 stretch.

Teerth purohit Anshul Shrikunj said almost 100 years ago saints had participated in an anti-dam movement at Har-Ki-Pauri after which the then colonial British rulers refrained from constructing dam on the Ganga river.

“Concerned agencies will now woke up as none wants the seer community’s anger,” he said.

First Published: Jun 17, 2018 22:04 IST