Indian defence forces have completed the evacuation of pilgrims. As claimed, it was the biggest such operation by the forces. However ever, as it appears, we as nation have never learn any useful lessons and do hardly plan and take actions that will avoid or reduce the impact of similar disasters as and when it happens in different parts of the country.
Char Dhams– Gangotri, Jamunotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath are important pilgrimages from perhaps epic period. And the people from even the remote villages have been visiting them. As child I had heard about them from my great grandmother who had visited these shrines in group, perhaps in early 90’s. I have also seen some priests from these shrines coming to our village in every summer to collect the annual donation promised by the visitors during their visits. It used to be wonderful time with their performing aarati and bhog every day in the morning and evening in the main front court yard of our house.
We also visited the dhams few years ago. It was a difficult trip even for us when a lot of work such as road construction has been done over years to make them more accessable since my great grand mother’s days. Kedarnath was still the most difficult part with no road between Gauri Kund and the main shrine at Kedarnath. The governments at centre have been neglecting the developments of the pilgrimage centres of India.
Here are some views based on this year’s worst deluge in my memory.
1.Char Dham yatra is pilgrimage and not pleasure holiday spots. People must avoid taking Little kids and full family to enjoy the trip as pleasure trip. The younger ones can visit the places in different programmes for trekking etc.
2. The government must record the persons in the habitation and separately all the pilgrims that visit these shrines.
3. A national volunteer force well trained in various activities is required for facing disasters and they may come from all fields including religious bodies and NGOs. Why should not the Congress Seva Dal and RSS cadre or senior NCC cadets under the guidance of army personnels be trained for helping the society in such situation? I wish the political parties with so much resources could do some social service too instead of focusing all their energy on nurturing the vote banks with false promises and useless doles.
4.I feel India must use the best possible technology and even set up a research institute for the roads to be built for the geological condition as it is there in Himalayas and use of the best materials and practices in building the hill roads of the desired quality and for reducing land slides from the hill sides. It is a technical problem and we must find the best engineering solution. The national calamity should be taken as the challenge by our governments for better work and the future must prove that we didn’t sleep again.