Dehradun : The ‘chaar dhaam’ yatra (as the pilgrimage to the four holy shrines of Yamnotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath is popularly known) in Uttarakhand has as always been mired in mismanagement, a care-a-less attitude of the concerned authorities and controversies.
The pilgrimage to these four important shrines of the Hindus, which could become a huge revenue earner for the government of Uttarakhand has neither been given the attention it deserves nor the requisite infrastructure required for the lakhs who come on pilgrimage every year.
Such is the spate of affairs that more often than not most of the pilgrims never think of doing a return trip because of the callous neglect of the authorities to the roads and infrastructure on the mountainous stretch.
Except for perhaps the devouts who may return again, others are thankful that they have done it atleast once in their life.
Even the outgoing governor of the state, Margaret Alva who has been shifted by the centre to Rajasthan in her last meeting with the local press here rued the fact that the most important annual happening in the state, which if managed properly could turn its economic fortunes, continued to be neglected.
While inclement weather this year may have been a major reason for the decline in the number of pilgrims to the shrines after the first day when the doors of the shrines were opened after the long winter closure, but the apathy that followed coupled with the strike by the bus operators were major contributors.
It speaks ill of the governments that have been in power in this small mountain state ever since Uttarakhand came into being in Nov 2000 that even a decade after its existence, not a thought was given to strengthening the conditions of the mountain roads and improving upon the infrastructure for the pilgrims.
True, that earlier being a part of the huge Uttar Pradesh state, the hill areas were completely neglected and not an iota of thought was given towards the pilgrimage to these four shrines, but sadly even after the formation of this small mountain state, the apathy of the government continues.
A former official of the Badrnath-Kedarnath Managing Committee, who has been going to the shrines for the last many years on the opening day told Hill Post that this was perhaps the first year that it snowed so heaving the day when the doors of the shrine were first opened.
“True, that in the earlier years also there have been occasions when it has snowed and there has been incessant rain, but the heavy snow this year displayed the entire neglect of facilities for the pilgrims.
There were no shelters for the pilgrims who had come and they continued to be at the mercy of the weather and alpine conditions”, he claimed.
He said that at Kedarnath the conditions were worse. Along the 14 km stretch from Gaurikund to the shrine, as one reached the higher stretches pilgrims had a hard time walking on the snow and the rarified atmosphere which made breathing hard.
If it had not been for the ITBP and army personnel, a lot many would not have been able to have darshan of the lingam at the shrine, he pointed out.