Saturday, May 25th, 2024

Himalaya is not ready for such a crowd

Mahesh Pandey:

There is a huge influx of pilgrims in the Chardham Yatra of Uttarakhand which started from Akshaya Tritiya. Since the start of the Yatra on May 10, till May 14, about three lakh pilgrims have visited Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. Last year, 95,000 pilgrims had reached these places in the first three days. Then in the first three days, 44,892 people had come to Kedarnath, so this time the number is 75,139. Similarly, there has been an increase of 61% in Gangotri and 59% in Yamunotri. At the same time, last year 15,432 people had reached Badrinath in the first two days of the yatra, whereas this time 22,690 pilgrims reached on the very first day.

Mana Tak Line
Due to increasing crowd, there is traffic jam at many places and long queues in temples. On the very first day of opening of Badrinath temple, about 4 km line for darshan extended till Mana village. By 4 pm on May 14, the number of people registering online for Chardham Yatra had reached 26,73,519. In this, there were more than 9 lakh people going to Kedarnath and more than 8.25 lakh people going to Badrinath. 4.25 lakh people wanted to go to Yamunotri and 5.5 lakh wanted to go to Gangotri. Due to increasing online registration, the Tourism Department has decided to keep offline registration closed on Wednesday and Thursday.

insensitivity of the system
It is being said that the chaos spread from the starting cities of the Yatra, Haridwar-Rishikesh to the Char Dhams, shows that the system lacks sensitivity towards the higher Himalayan regions. State Leader of Opposition Yashpal Arya taunts that there is a need for smooth and safe travel in Char Dham, not event management. The government is not in a position to tell how many pilgrims it has made arrangements to accommodate every day in each Dham.

traffic jam problem
The roads of Char Dham, popularly known as ‘All Weather Road’, have still not been completely constructed, hence there is a problem of traffic jam. The distance which usually took 2 hours to cover is now taking 8-8 hours. Due to lack of adequate public toilets on the Yatra route, filth is being thrown into the holy rivers at many places.

local people upset
The initial protests by local residents in Kedarnath and Badrinath have proved that the government has failed somewhere. In Badrinath, the district administration has removed all the Prasad shops of local residents. Hundreds of local women who have been selling Tulsi garlands for years have become unemployed. Horse-mule owners and local shopkeepers in Kedarnath are still upset over non-resolution of their problems.

the mountain is not ready
More than 80 lakh pilgrims are expected to come here this year. The mountains are not prepared for such a huge crowd. Policy makers should keep in mind the huge increase in the number of pilgrims while making arrangements for the Chardham Yatra, otherwise it would be like inviting a disaster.

memories of jam
On the very second day of the commencement of the Yatra, a huge crowd of devotees was seen on the dangerous hilly road leading to Yamunotri temple. Its video went viral on social media. After this the police had to appeal to the pilgrims to avoid visiting the temple for ‘at least a day’. In such a situation, pilgrims will leave with bad memories from here. This will affect the image of Uttarakhand as a tourist destination.

immense crowd
However, after the protest by many local people and pilgrimage priests, the government has taken some action. CM has asked his secretary Meenakshi Sundaram to camp in Uttarkashi. Before this, three officers each at the government and district level have already been deployed to look after the arrangements of Chardham. Still the question remains that where is the capacity in the Himalayas to accommodate such an immense crowd?

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author’s own.

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