Dehradun: Pilgrimage to Hemkund Sahib in Garhwal Himalayas resumed on Saturday from Govindghat after remaining suspended for over three months in the wake of the June flashfloods which had breached a 6-km stretch of the trek to the famed Sikh shrine.
Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna flagged off the first pilgrims, who had converged at Govindghat from different parts of the country, to mark the resumption of the annual pilgrimage after the mid-June calamity that had also caused damage to infrastructure surrounding Kedarnath.
Addressing a large gathering at Govindghat, Bahuguna said that the blessings of "Wahe Guru" made possible the resumption of the yatra to the shrine.
"Yatras to Hemkund Sahib and Gangotri have resumed while pilgrimage to Kedarnath will start on October 1," he said.
Announcing that the state government was trying hard to put life back on track in the affected areas, Bahuguna said efforts were underway on a war-footing to restore basic infrastructure like roads, water and power connectivity in the flood-hit hill districts.
Resumption of the yatra will help the tourism sector emerge from the ill-effects of the calamity with people engaged in tourism related trades getting a chance to get back their livelihood, he said.
He said norms had been revised so that people who had suffered losses in the tragedy could be suitably compensated.
So far Rs 150 crore had been distributed as compensation among affected people.
Bahuguna also announced that a base hospital in Chamoli and helipad at Joshimath will soon be constructed.
"The yatra to Hemkund Sahib suspended since June 16 natural calamity was resumed at 9 am," vice chairman of Shri Hemkund Sahib Management Trust Narendrajit Singh Bindra said.
The flag-off was held after "bhog" and a ceremonial recitation of Akhand Path, he said, adding the portals of the shrine located at a height of 15,200 feet will re-open tomorrow when the first batch of pilgrims arrives there.
Though damage to the shrine devoted to the tenth Sikh Guru Guru Gobind Singh was not as extensive as in Kedarnatah, a 6-km stretch of the trek route to the high altitude Gurdwara was washed away in the June 16 deluge.
With the damaged pedestrian route completely repaired, thanks to restoration efforts put in by Hemkund Sahib Management Trust, the yatra was resumed, Bindra said.
However, as a precautionary measure, the number of pilgrims to the shrine will be kept limited initially which will gradually be increased in the course of time, he said.