After airlifting heavy equipment to the flood-battered Kedarnath early this month, the Uttarakhand government is facing an uphill task to speed up reconstruction activities at the high altitude shrine area in view of heavy snowfall this season.
“We are taking up only small works right now. All the major works would start only after the snow melts in April-May,” said a top government official.
Kedarnath had been covered with three to six-feet snow this season following which the reconstruction works had been considerably slowed down. The snowfall is considered to be the heaviest this season as compared to previous years.
Despite the inclement weather at Kedarnath, Chief Minister Harish Rawat has set up a monitoring committee comprising additional chief secretary (ACS) Rakesh Sharma and Kedarnath Congress MLA Shaila Rani Rawat to prepare a weekly-wise progress report on its reconstruction works. Kedarnath is situated at a height of 11200 feet in the Garhwal Himalayas.
Early this month, an Indian Air Force’s MI 26 helicopter had airlifted the heavy equipments needed for the reconstruction works to Kedarnath despite the inclement weather conditions there.
When contacted, Rakesh Sharma told Business Standard due to heavy snowfall only couple of works would be carried out till April this year at Kedarnath. “We have to construct two bridges on Saraswati river and a ghat on the confluence of Mandakini and Saraswati rivers till April. Rest of the main work will start only when snow melts,” Sharma said. Besides, nearly 75 huts that would accommodate nearly 4000 people are almost ready, he said.
Meanwhile, the government is yet to take a decision whether a new action plan is needed for redevelopment of the Kedarnath township which was almost devastated during June 2013 calamitous floods.
Except the Eighth century majestic Kedarnath temple, most of the adjoining buildings or structures had been damaged severely under the impact of the massive flash floods and landslides. “A decision on the redevelopment of Kedarnath town has not been taken so far,” said Sharma.
The government is holding talks with local priests on the issue, he said.
The Geological Survey of India (GSI) had submitted its final report to the government recommending building walls around the temple, strengthening the platform around the historic Kedarnath temple and removal of debris around the shrine through green blast techniques. The government had accepted the report and is constructing a three-layer protected wall around the Kedarnath shrine.
A handful of stakeholders comprising priests, businessmen & shopkeepers, hoteliers and dhaba owners are living a miserable life in different villages of Rudraprayag district as religious tourism has taken a beating.
The biggest issue confronting the government is to redevelop Kedarnath town to its glory. There are nearly 300 structures in Kedarnath town which bore the brunt of the floods. But the decision regarding their shifting or demolition is causing anxiety among their owners. The government’s indecisiveness on the issue has also created an unpleasant situation before all these shopkeepers, traders and priests.