Over a month ahead of the beginning of the Char Dham yatra, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on March 31 reviewed preparations for the annual pilgrimage and asked officials to make better use of technology to make the yatra safer and more convenient for pilgrims.
Char Dham Yatra begins on May 3 this year with the opening of the portals of the Yamunotri temple in the Himalayas in the Uttarkashi district. Large crowds of devotees are expected to throng the Himalayan temples this year as the COVID-led restrictions have been removed.
The COVID-19 pandemic has cast its shadow on the pilgrimage for the last two years with the Himalayan temples opening several months late for devotees amid restrictions like a cap on the number of pilgrims visiting them daily.
The restrictions, however, have been removed now and pilgrim footfalls at the Himalayan shrines are expected to record a substantial rise during the yatra this season, officials said. Despite the restrictions, over five lakh pilgrims visited Char Dham in 2021.
The number in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic, however, had crossed 10 lakh. Mr. Dhami, who reviewed the preparations for the yatra along with Tourism and Culture Minister Satpal Maharaj, Badrinath-Kedarnath Mandir Samiti president Ajendra Ajay and several senior officials, said a large number of pilgrims are expected to visit the Himalayan temples this year and, therefore, the arrangements should be made accordingly.
He asked the PWD secretary to examine the condition of roads to the shrines and make all arrangements for pilgrims along the way. “Heavy machines should be kept ready for an immediate opening of roads in case of any roadblock or disruption of any kind,” he said.
“Optimum use of technology should be made for pilgrimage management such as the use of drones for traffic management during the yatra and issuance of a toll-free number for pilgrims to give them all the requisite information related to the pilgrimage,” he said.
“As a large number of pilgrims are expected this year, there should not be any chaos or mismanagement. The pilgrims should also be registered and enough parking facilities should be set up along routes,” Mr. Dhami said.
The Chief Minister also asked officials to ensure that Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, Yamunotri and Hemkund Sahib get a 24-hour power supply. The review meeting was also attended by Chief Secretary S. S. Sandhu and DGP Ashok Kumar.