Dehradun: After the destruction in Uttarakhand caused by fatal floods, the shadow of sustained unemployment looms over the entire Chardham route. What will two years of lockdown mean for the local economy that is completely dependent on the pilgrimage traffic?
For an entire population whose only source of livelihood is the earnings during the six months of the religious Chardham yatra, Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna's statement that Kedarnath will not be able to open for next two years sounded a death knell.
With no electricity and no telephone connectivity for over a week now, guesthouses in Kedarnath wear a deserted look. June usually is a month of hectic activity but this year it has been a horror story.
"No ration, no food. Now if Kedarnath doesn't happen, it means I will have to return to Delhi," said a hotelier. Not just the hoteliers and transporters, every small business is depended on the Chardham yatra and as the realisation dawns on them about the lockout period of around 2 years, migration appears to be the only option left ahead of them.
Locals now say that rebuilding can be faster if they are made a part of the process. "I appeal to the government to use local people who have now lost their livelihoods in the process of rebuilding Uttarakhand," said another hotelier.
Even as the rescue operations for the tourists is almost over, for the locals in Kedarnath it is likely to be a long wait to normalcy. Would the government find an alternative livelihood for them or will they have to take a long road to migration?