Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday asked the Uttarakhand government to develop Badrinath Dham as a smart city, retaining its spiritual and mythological characteristics. Modi viewed through a video conference a state government presentation on its masterplan for the beautification of the Himalayan temple and its surroundings, a project which will cost Rs 424 crore and take about five years.
The prime minister also reviewed the ongoing development work at Kedarnath Dham and emphasized the need to create pilgrim- and environment-friendly facilities there. Kedarnath and Badrinath are two of the four dhams that draw lakhs of pilgrims every year to Uttarakhand.
The prime minister said while implementing the Badrinath plan, special attention should be paid on retaining the spiritual and mythological elements embedded in the character of the place. He said Badrinath should be developed as a smart spiritual city, according to an official statement.
Modi said homestay facilities should be developed near the temple. He suggested making a special lighting arrangement that blends with the spiritual ambience of the place at the main Badrinath Dham entrance.
Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, state Tourism Minister Satpal Maharaj and senior officials including Chief Secretary Om Prakash attended the presentation on Badrinath. The masterplan will be implemented over an area of 85 hectares by 2025, a statement said.
The chief minister said local people were highly cooperative and there will be no shortage of land for carrying out the reconstruction work at Badrinath. Rawat also suggested developing Keshavprayag, the confluence of Alaknanda and Saraswati rivers near Badrinath.
The Badrinath masterplan, which includes construction of a museum, an art gallery and dissemination of information about 'Dashavtar' through a light-and-sound programme, has been prepared in accordance with the Himalayan location of the temple, the prime minister was told. Modi also reviewed the progress of reconstruction projects at Kedarpuri, which houses the Kedarnath shrine and was badly damaged during the 2013 floods.
He was told that the work on the reconstruction of Adi Shankaracharya's 'samadhi' there and the building of two more meditation caves is being carried out expeditiously. Construction of a bridge at Garudchatti is complete and a place has been identified for developing a nursery for Brahma Kamal, the state flower.
In a statement, the Prime Minister's Office said Modi called for using the latest technology in the efforts underway for developing Kedarnath and its surrounding areas. "PM Narendra Modi reviewed the ongoing development work at Kedarnath Dham. The review included boosting infrastructure at Kedarnath, which would enable more pilgrims as well as tourists to visit," the PMO tweeted.