In a bid to put a fool-proof security system into place before the Char Dham yatra begins in May, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat has ordered substantial deployment of SDRF personnel in danger zones prone to natural disasters en route to the famous Himalayan shrines located in the state.
Reviewing preparations for the yatra scheduled to begin in the first week of May, the Chief Minister reminded officials of the April 30 deadline set for completion of road repair work along the pilgrimage route and asked them to deploy in full strength the newly constituted State Disaster Response Force personnel in the danger zones, official sources said in Dehradun on Tuesday.
The sacred portals of Kedarnath whose adjoining areas bore the brunt of the tragedy last year are scheduled to open for devotees on May 5.
Drawing lessons from the huge natural calamity last year during which the state government's preparedness to handle the crisis often came into question, it created SDRF on the lines of NDRF a few months back drafting in personnel trained in disaster management from the police force.
Over 50 danger zones (slide-prone areas) were identified by the BRO recently in the worst-hit districts of Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Uttarkashi where SDRF deployments will be made on a large scale to keep up vigil.
The chief minister asked Principal Secretary PWD S S Sandhu to personally visit places where road repair work is under way and ask officials engaged in the operations to speed up in view of the proximity of the April 30 deadline and the perennial threat of bad weather which may hamper work.
He also asked Sandhu to take stern action against any official found guilty of laxity in discharge of his duties in affected areas.
The Char Dham route was badly damaged in the calamitous flashfloods last year and restoring them fully before the start of the pilgrimage this season has been among the state government's priorities.
Rawat also asked Chief Secretary Subhash Kumar to keep in constant touch with BRO, another agency apart from the PWD entrusted with the task of infrastructural reconstruction in the affected areas especially the char dham route which suffered extensive damage in the calamity last year.
All precautions are being taken this year to deal with any exigencies during the yatra season in view of the largescale loss of lives and property in the calamity including bio-metric registration of devotees before they embark on the pilgrimage and introduction of the facility of weather alerts on their mobile phones.