Kedarnath Shrine -Then Courtesy:Indian Express
Kedarnath Shrine -Now(after the floods) Courtesy:Indian Express
More than a million people come during "Char dham" season that covers Yamunotri,Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. They trek for 14 km from Gauri Kund to reach Kedarnath. Pilgrims staying in some 60 dharmashalas were simply washed away at the onslaught of gushing water and volley of debris Sparing only the sanctum and the adjoining sections of Kedarnath Temple, most structures in its vicinity had been washed away.
It is true that concerns expressed on soil degradation and disturbance to the natural ecology and destabilisation of hill slopes caused by the construction of hydel projects along the Bhagirathi and Alaknanda had fallen on deaf ears. Indiscriminate tinkering with Nature has caused the calamity. The proposal to remove the buildings and other structures obstructing the natural drainage lines has not been implemented. The environmentalists describe the death and damage as a man-made disaster. Deforestation has already reduced the forest cover of the region by about 30% . It is reported that Himalayan ecosystems have experienced faster rates of warming in the last 100 years and more than the European Alps or other mountain ranges of the world. Anil Joshi, Director of the Himalayan Environment Studies and Conservation Organisation said," Nothing happens in our country before a disaster and after a disaster." Last week's floods have sounded an alarm bell again.
Thousands of villagers in this region earn during the season who line the entire route from Gauri kund to Kedarnath ,selling umbrellas,canes,raincoats,water bottles,snacks etc. They carry the children and the old on their back. These villagers who fall below the poverty line have to wait for the resumption of the yatras. It looks certain that it may take nearly a year to restore the Kedarnath shrine to its past glory. Will the Government and the People take up the restoration work immediately and complete it before the winter so that the "Char Dham" Yatra may restart by next April?