With just a fortnight to go for the start of the annual Char Dham pilgrimage, Uttarakhand government is giving final touches to preparations for the yatra route to ensure a smooth and trouble-free journey for the devotees en route to the four Himalayan shrines.
"Almost all major roads on the Char Dham route have been equipped with facilities and opened to traffic considering the proximity of the yatra season. The Rishikesh-Badrinath highway has been fully repaired," state Chief Secretary Subhash Kumar, who recently toured Kedar Valley on foot to review preparations for the yatra, told PTI.
"A joint task force of Nehru Mountaineering Institute and Uttarakhand police personnel is making efforts on a war footing to build the pedestrian route between Bhimbali and Kedarnath," he said.
The yatra season begins this year with the opening of the portals of Gangotri and Yamunotri on May 2 followed by those of Kedarnath on May 4 and Badrinath on May 5.
Assuring devotees of a safe yatra this season, the chief secretary said many arrangements, which were not in existence earlier, have been made along the pilgrimage route for the safety of the pilgrims. There will be heavy deployment of State Disaster Response Force and para-military personnel along the route especially in slide-prone areas to deal with any emergency besides temporary mobile counters at 13 places including Haridwar, Rishikesh, Jankichatti, Guptkashi and Gangotri for the registration of pilgrims, Kumar said, adding the process of deploying 100 SDRF jawans in Kedar Valley has already begun.
The yatra was suspended last year in the wake of the catastrophic flashfloods in Uttarakhand in June, killing thousands of people.
The Char Dhams are closed every year for nearly six months during the winter when they become snowbound only to be reopened during April-May when lakhs of devotees from all over the country and abroad visit the shrines.