New Delhi: With less than a week to go for this year`s Kedarnath yatra, preparations are afoot to make the journey smooth and trouble-free for pilgrims.
The Uttarakhand government, temple committee and priests are giving final touches to the arrangements even as elections for the hill state`s five parliamentary seats are round the corner.
The yatra season begins this year with the opening of the portals of Gangotri and Yamunotri on May 2, followed by that of Kedarnath on May 4 and Badrinath on May 5.
"We are confident that all the works will be completed before the deadline of April 30. We will have a smooth and trouble-free yatra...We have made precautionary arrangements for any eventuality," Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat said.
Though the state`s five Lok Sabha constituencies go to polls on May 7, it will not affect the smooth conduct of the yatra, he said.
"Police brigade will be deployed at seismic zones, equipped with bulldozers. We will also deploy State Disaster Response Force personnel and ITBP jawans in large numbers. Modern telecommunication system has been put in place. The entire yatra route will be monitored by police patrols and from watch towers," Rawat said.
Badri Kedar Temple Committee CEO, B D Singh, who had visited the valley, said snow cover has been removed from the temple complex after a short delay due to inclement weather.
"When I visited the temple 10 days ago there was a snow cover of up to 6 feet but we deployed 100 more labourers and three engineers. Now the snow cover from the temple complex has been removed completely," Singh said.
A big helipad has been built at Lincholi which will also be a base camp for the yatra, he said.
"There will be a base camp, offices of Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) and temple committee near the helipad. We will provide free meals to the pilgrims. We have rented rooms in houses that were not affected in the devastating flood last year," he said.
He also said that supply of electricity and water has been restored in Kedarnath valley. "A new pedestrian route of 22 kms from Gaurikund to Kedarnath via Lincholi has been built after the traditional way via Rambada, which was 14-km long, was washed away in the flood," he said.
Bheemshakar Ling Rawalji, the head priest of Kedarnath, has said that the Kaal Bhairav puja at the temple will be held on April 29.
"We will perform Kaal Bhairav puja on April 29 and the next day Kedarnath will proceed from Ukhi Math. If the weather is favourable, we will move by Army horses from Gaurikund otherwise will take a chopper. We will reach Kedarnath on May 3 and will begin the puja at 6.15 am the next day.
"This time the priest from Ukhi Math Gangadhar Ling will be based in Kedarnath while Bagesh Ling, the priest who was inside the temple on that fateful day last year, will remain in Ukhi Math," he said.