Pilgrims going to Kedarnath this year can use special mobile Apps for their safety and alert authorities in case of an emergency.
With the sacred portals of the Himalayan shrine, which bore the brunt of devastating floods last year, slated to be thrown open to devotees on May 4, the Uttarakhand government is gearing up.
Chief Minister Harish Rawat said his government will use modern technology including special mobile Apps for pilgrims to provide a safe and smooth yatra.
“Our first challenge is to ensure safety of pilgrims and we will use modern technology for that. We will strengthen our telecom network and will provide special mobile Apps to the pilgrims at the time of registration,” Rawat, who took over charge from Vijay Bahuguna last month, said.
“They can press them if they are in any danger and remain connected with the headquarters. It’s just like women safety mobile Apps. We will establish the headquarters in Bheembali and Guptkashi,” Rawat told PTI in an interview.
He said his government is also seeking special satellites for getting advanced information about any climatic change.
“Had those satellites been installed earlier, the damage would not have been to that scale last year. We are trying to get some satellites to know about the climatic changes in advance,” the former water resources minister said.
He also said that BSNL network in the state will be upgraded and all funds have been sanctioned for this.
“We will also strengthen BSNL network in the state. State government has sanctioned the necessary funds for that. We are in talks with two-three companies for mobile Apps and one has already given presentation. We will implement this as soon as the yatra begins,” he said, but did not elaborate on the technicalities of the Apps.
State police network will also be strengthened and a police station will be established at the top in Kedarnath.
“We will establish a police chowki at the top in Kedarnath. There will be base camps for pilgrims in Bheembali, Ranchori and Gaurikund and only limited number of pilgrims will be released in batches from there. We will put in place pre-fabricated structures wherever possible.”
When asked about any alternative route for the pilgrimage, he said the focus is on re-establishing the traditional route via Rambara which was washed away in the mid-June flash floods last year.
“As of now we are reconstructing the traditional route via Gaurikund and Rambara. Survey for the alternative route has been done and we have sought permission from environment and forests ministry,” he said.
He said the water resources ministry has already given its green signal to a scheme for monitoring flood from the source of the river.
“Central Water Commission will monitor the flood from the source of the river now. I had given green signal to that scheme when I was in that ministry,” he said.
When asked whether all the works will be done before the beginning of pilgrimage, he said, “We will complete work before April 30 and we are working hard for that. Cleaning of the temple had begun last year and will resume as soon as the ice melts. We cannot use big machines there and it will be done manually. Temple area is the responsibility of temple committee and they will do the needful.”
He also spelt out long-term rehabilitation plans which includes a new township in a safer zone.
“There is a safe stretch on the right side when you come down from Kedarnath temple. It is the same area where working helipad was made. We have plans to develop a new township there but it is still in the concept stage and we will work on it gradually,” he said.
“As of now the focus is to reconstruct the existing infrastructure as Saraswati and Mandakini rivers have changed their course and the internal damage is yet to be assessed. We can work on this after the complete assessment. We will also stabilise the hills surrounding Kedarnath temple with the use of modern science and technology,” he said.