Hope and optimism on the char dham yatra route

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Dehra Dun : Hope and optimism are the hallmarks of the people of this small hill state, perhaps because of the fact that it has the pseudonym ‘abode of the Gods’.

And while there is a question mark on the efficacy of the roads and infrastructure on the char dham yatra route, the stakeholders are getting their act ready to meet the needs and requirements of the pilgrims.

Though there is a general sense of gloom and despondency in government circles and the rains are putting a spanner in meeting the tight time schedules for the various works that have to be undertaken to make the roads worthy for the large traffic that hits them during the yatra season, dhaba and guest house owners along the route are putting coat of paint and varnish.

While a number of guest houses and dhabas were either washed away or greatly damaged in the flash floods of June 16-17, which was christened ‘Himalayan tsunami’, the owners have pooled in their resources and even taken loans in the optimism and hope that the yatra will once again take place with the same fervor as in the past and undo the losses that they suffered.

Though some of the owners of the guest houses and dhabas who gave them on contract to others to run their places confided that there were no takers this year, but even then they are busy sprucing up their places, sure that the Gods will look after them and the pilgrims will come again though not in the large numbers of yester years, but enough to make their ends meet.

With the doors of the Kedarnath temple scheduled to open on May 4 and those of Badrinath on May 5, d-day is just over a fortnight away, but the general condition of the roads is awesome.

At many places the large boulders and rocks that came cascading down with the flash floods have yet to be removed and large tracts of roads that were swept away have still to be repaired.

Even as chief minister Harish Rawat has taken upon himself the daunting task of ensuring that all arrangements are in place and the char dham yatra goes on as per schedule without any hitch, but the Lok Sabha elections due on May 7, will divert his attention to the more immediate need of the party high command in ensuring that the Congress wins all the five seats in Uttarakhand.

What has to the woe of the chief minister is the fact that he is the leader that is most wanted by the candidates to woo the voters. Coupled with this is the fact that Rawat’s wife, Renuka Rawat is the candidate from the prestigious Haridwar Lok Sabha seat where she is pitched against former chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ of the BJP.

But reports reaching the state headquarters are not very encouraging as far as the response of the pilgrims for the char dham yatra is concerned this year.

There have been very little bookings and even tour operators from other states are not evincing keen interest because of the tragedy last year and the sloppy manner in which the relief and rescue operations were undertaken.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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