Centre tells states to regulate pilgrim flow

Advisory aimed at preventing untoward incidents

Centre tells states to regulate pilgrim flow

The Centre on Thursday asked state governments to take immediate measures to assess the carrying capacity of religious places and regulate the flow of pilgrims accordingly to avoid any untoward incidents such as the recent Uttarakhand flash flood.

At a meeting, Union Tourism Minister K Chiranjeevi also asked the states to carry out similar exercises for other tourist destinations located in their respective jurisdictions to prevent precarious situations. 

“It is our responsibility that we must immediately assess the carrying capacity of various tourism destinations and address the sustainability issues. This must be done especially for religious places where large number of pilgrims congregate at a given time. Uttarakhand has been a warning to all of us. We must take lessons from it,” the minister said.

The minister’s suggestion to the states assumes significance as most religious places in the country, including those in Uttarakhand, have unregulated pilgrim flow, except at Amarnath temple in Jammu and Kashmir. At the day-long meeting, the issue of security of foreign tourists, especially women, was also discussed.

Referring to recent incidents of sexual assault on foreign women tourists in the country, the minister asked the states to create a cadre of tourist police in “one form or the other” to ensure tourists’ safety. 

Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha have deployed Tourist Police, in various forms.

The minister suggested that other states follow suit. The meeting comprising tourism ministers from all the states resolved to give immediate response to any incident of crime against tourists and ensure the speedy trials of such cases to bring the culprits to book. At the meeting, Chiranjeevi also raised the issue of lack of cleanliness, saying that it was the reason for India losing business.

“The problem is serious and if we fail to tackle it now, it may be too late. I suggest that all states and Union Territory Administrations must declare various tourist destinations as plastic free, ensure regular removal of garbage, build proper toilets to check open defecation and sensitise the community about the need to keep the destinations clean,” he said.

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