Weather stalls efforts to remove debris from Kedarnath shrine

A view of the washed off buildings area near Kedarnath Dham in Uttarakhand. PTI
A view of the washed off buildings area near Kedarnath Dham in Uttarakhand.

Dehra Dun : Even as the Uttarakhand government is making hectic efforts to start worship at the Kedarnath shrine as soon as possible, which was devastated in the June 16 floods, keeping the sentiments of the large number of devotees of Lord Shiva in mind, inclement weather is putting a spanner.

Though the immediate vicinity of the shrine and its sanctum sanctorum has been cleaned of the debris that had come with the June 16 floods and some dignity has been restored to the place, but huge boulders that were brought down by the swirling waters of the Mandakini and the debris of the partially and fully collapsed houses is still to be removed.

To remove this the Uttarakhand government had decided to airlift heavy machinery to Kedarnath so that the task of removing the boulders and debris could be undertaken. Some of the heavy equipment that is to be airlifted to the shrine is lying at Guptakshi are still lying there awaiting airlift, as the choppers have not been able to take off for the shrine because of the inclement weather conditions at the shrine.

The state government is also not willing to take any chances by asking the pilots to take off in the inclement weather as there have been four accidents involving helicopters involved in the rescue and relief operations due to bad weather. Though in two accidents there were no casualties, in the other two as many as 22 people were killed, 20 in the IAF Mi-17 chopper and two in a helicopter belonging to a private company.

Meanwhile a meeting of the Badri-Kedar Temple Committee has been called on August 2. The process for ‘shudhikaran’ (purification) of the temple and the date on which prayers at the shrine will be started will be discussed at the meeting. The two main persons of the shrine, Kedarnath Shankaracharya, Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati and the ‘rawal’ (head priest) of the temple, Bhimshankar Ling, who are currently at loggerheads, will also be present at the meeting.

Incidentally, the main concern of the state government as of now seems to be to address the pressing needs of starting the prayers at the Kedarnath shrine, which is snowballing into a major controversy as different religious heads are taking different views on it. The two key players the ‘rawal’ and the Shankaracharya are already at loggerheads on the issue, and all efforts are being made to play down the controversy.

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A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt was Editor, Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish had worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, he was a recipient of many awards Jagdish Bhatt, aged 72, breathed his last on 28th August 2021 at his Dehradun residence.

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