Post-deluge, victims' kin arrive in Kedarnath

Post-deluge, victims' kin arrive in Kedarnath

As the Kedarnath yatra commenced on Saturday for the first time after the deluge, among those who reached the shrine complex on Saturday were kin of people who lost their lives in the calamity.

While some were hoping to meet their loved ones, others simply wanted to pay obeisance to Lord Shiva. On day one of the yatra, around 75 people walked the 23-km stretch to the ancient shrine.

Meanwhile, Union Minister for Water Resources Harish Rawat (Congress), who visited the shrine a day earlier, criticised the Congress-led Vijay Bahuguna government for making “inadequate” arrangements for pilgrims. Rawat told Deccan Herald that the route was dangerous and risky.

A family from Agra, which had lost two relatives in the floods, prayed at the shrine for the departed souls. Rahul Massod, who trekked with his friends, said they came to Kedarnath out of curiosity to know what exactly happened there.

Nearly 30 tents, including igloo-shaped structures, were set up for the pilgrims to stay in Kedarnath. A woman had to be sent back midway through the journey after she developed health problems.

Visibility at the shrine complex was severely reduced in the evening as fog blanketed the entire area, said sources. The temperature also plunged drastically. Mountain peaks surrounding the shrine experienced snowfall. The government had arranged for community meals, midway camps, medical and other facilities. The shrine was decked up with flowers.

Rawat, who is considered to be Bahuguna’s bête noire, said the present route may serve its purpose temporarily since only medically-fit pilgrims, in batches of 100-150, were allowed to travel. “But this arrangement will be grossly inadequate once the next yatra begins in 2014 in full flow,” he said.

“A new route alignment of the yatra terrain needs to be identified at the earliest so that it can accommodate thousands of pilgrims. The present route is not good enough. The government has hurriedly done the job so that the route could be opened at the earliest,” he said.

Rawat said he has informed the chief secretary and other officials about the shortcomings. “I tried to contact the chief minister to apprise him of my concerns, but he is in Delhi. I will inform him accordingly,” Rawat said.

“We need to work towards rehabilitation of the routes. There are taxi drivers, road-side eatery owners and people who depended on mules for a living. They have lost everything. We need to focus on all this,” he said.

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