Union Minister of Water Resources Uma Bharti on Monday announced important measures such as improving the flood warning system and repair of river embankments to prevent disasters like the one that struck Kedarnath last year, killing thousands of pilgrims and leaving many more displaced.

On the first anniversary of the tragedy, Ms. Bharti said the Central Water Commission has been advised to give prior warnings about rise in water levels in lakes in higher reaches, which are more than 50 hectares in area.

Tree plantation

As a tribute to pilgrims who lost their lives, the Ministry will launch a massive tree plantation drive. This will be in coordination with the Ministry of Environment, Department of Tourism and the Uttarakhand government. Efforts will be made to re-plant medicinal plants that were washed away in the floods. The tree plantation drive will cover Gangotri, Haridwar, Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna, Farakka, Nawadweep and Ganga Sagar.

“I will stay on the banks of Yamuna here to pay my homage to those who died,” the Minister said at a press conference here.

Ms. Bharti said the government is serious about cleaning of the Ganga. A group of secretaries will soon give a report in consultation with environmentalists, experts and saints.

Ms. Bharti said the Ganga cleaning programme would also take into account the millions of people who are dependent on the river.

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