The Kedarnath yatra came to an abrupt halt on Saturday, after a forecast by the meteorological office here that the Char Dham area in the state would witness moderate rains and snowfall from May 11-13.
“The Kedarnath yatra has been suspended,” said Ganesh Godiyal, chairman of the Badrinath-Kedarnath Temple Committee. Most of the 300-odd pilgrims who had reached Kedarnath on Saturday have been advised to rush back to base camps. Those on the way to the area have been asked to stop at the Limcholi area.
“All the pilgrims are safe,” said Godiyal. The decision to suspend the yatra was taken as a precautionary measure, added Godiyal.
As part of regulatory measures, the government was allowing only 500 pilgrims a day to Kedarnath.
However, the yatra to Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri shrines would continue despite the weather forecast.
The decision to suspend the Kedarnath yatra came due to last year’s deluge, when the meteorological office had claimed the state government ignored its warning on the disturbed weather conditions.
Over 5,000 people were killed and hundreds of others rendered homeless in the devastating flash floods in mid June.
“We are not going to take any chance as far as Kedarnath yatra is concerned. But the yatra to other three shrines has been allowed to continue for the time being,” said a top government official.
Chamoli District Magistrate S A Murugeshan also said though it was raining moderately in the Badrinath region, the yatra has not been suspended. “The met office has only issued a forecast of moderate rains only. So, there is no need to stop the Badrinath yatra,” said Murugeshan.
Meanwhile, Rawal (chief priest) of Kedarnath Temple Bheema Shankar Ling has criticised the government’s inadequate arrangements for the Kedarnath yatra and advised the people not to come to the shrine for a period of a week.
The Rawal’s statement came despite Chief Minister Harish Rawat’s assertion on Saturday the government had done its best to restore basic facilities at Kedarnath like electricity, water and road, despite adverse conditions. Rawat admitted the Char Dham pilgrimage would regain its pristine glory in 1-2 years. “But this is also the fact that pilgrims are coming to Chardham yatra which is the best thing that has happened after the last year’s devastation,” said Rawat.