No construction on river banks in Kedarnath: Uttarakhand CM

No construction will be allowed on river banks in Kedarnath and near other shrines in Uttarakhand, Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said on Saturday.

New Delhi: No construction will be allowed on river banks in Kedarnath and near other shrines in Uttarakhand and a reconstruction plan has been chalked out to ensure sustainable development, Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said on Saturday.

"We have chalked out a major reconstruction plan to protect Kedarnath and other shrines for the next 100, 200 or even 300 years. No construction will be allowed on river banks in Kedarnath and other shrines," Bahuguna said.

Speaking to a news channel, Bahuguna said he met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking an advanced warning system for the entire Himalayan region to forecast earthquakes, cloudbursts and landslides.

He said nearly 300 villages will have to be relocated at a cost of Rs 8,000 crore as the rivers have changed their courses.

"We will discuss with the Geological Survey of India, Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology and IIT Roorkee about our reconstruction and rehabilitation plans," he said.

To regulate flow of people in the pilgrim town of Kedarnath, Bahuguna said: "From now on, we will start registration of pilgrims going to Kedarnath and Badrinath to regulate pilgrimage."

"There shall be separate roads for entry and exit, cable cars will be installed and we are planning to construct 100 helipads, which will be helpful in times of calamities," he said.

The chief minister said so far nearly 4,500 people have been reported missing since the June 16 calamity.

"We have asked chief secretaries of all states to send us lists of pilgrims reported missing from their states. We had set a one month deadline from the date of the calamity for tracing missing people, which has now passed," he said.

"Now, I can say that there are no chances of any more survivors. We will collate the lists of missing people from states with our own list based on FIRs filed in Uttarakhand and then arrive at a correct figure of those presumed dead," he said.

On granting compensation, the chief minister said Rs 500,000 each will be given to the next of kin of the deceased who were from Uttarakhand and Rs 350,000 to the kin of the dead from other states.

Bahuguna feared more bodies might still be trapped under the huge amount of slush that has covered Kedarnath town.

"The entire slush has congealed into rock and because of continuous rains, the restoration work is being hampered," he said.

He said DNA samples and personal articles like watches, earrings and other articles recovered from bodies that have been cremated so far have been preserved.

"We will post them on the Uttarakhand website, so that the relatives can identify them and come forward to claim them. Close relatives will have to give their blood samples for DNA matching," he added.


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