Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday reviewed the Kedarnath Dham development and reconstruction project, and said such works should stand the test of time as well as be in harmony with nature.
Portions of the Himalayan shrine in Uttarakhand were damaged in flash floods in 2013.
Interacting with the State government’s top brass, including Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, via a video link, Mr. Modi asked it to speed up work on the project and assured there will be no dearth of funds.
The foundation stone of the reconstruction project at Kedarnath were laid in 2017 by the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister also issued directions for “further development” of other heritage and religious spots in the stretch between Ramban and Kedarnath, according to an official statement.
The meditation caves being built near the temple should also be made attractive for devotees, Mr. Modi said.
This work will be in addition to the redevelopment of the main shrine in Kedarnath, the statement said.
The Prime Minister said the State government should “envision and design development projects for holy sites like Kedarnath and Badrinath (another prominent Himalayan shrine) in a way that (they) stand the test of time and is yet eco-friendly and in harmony with nature and its surroundings”, it said.
Mr. Modi has visited the shrine on at least three occasions after becoming Prime Minister for the first time in 2014.
Keeping in mind the present situation and comparatively lean pressure in terms of tourists and pilgrims to the holy sites, Mr. Modi suggested that the present construction season can be utilised for completing pending works by proper distribution of labour pools.
This will help create facilities and infrastructure to better sustain tourist flow in the years to come, he felt.
The Prime Minister stressed that social distancing norms issued to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus should be followed while completing the works.
After the review, Mr. Modi tweeted, saying that the redevelopment emphasises that it should be eco-friendly and convenient for pilgrims as well as tourists.
“These efforts will deepen our cultural connect and boost tourism,” he said.
Topics related to the status of the development of the Brahma Kamal Vatika (a garden) and a museum to greet pilgrims en-route to Vasuki Taal, redevelopment of old town quarters and properties of historical significance, were also discussed in detail during the meeting.
It was stressed that these projects should be done while keeping intact their original architectural face.
The meeting also discussed eco-friendly parking spaces at “proper distance” from shrines and at regular intervals.
The Prime Minister also assessed the progress of work on the Adi Guru Shankaracharya’s Samadhi, Sarswati Ghat, Astha Path, the bridge leading to Bhairav Mandir and the one being constructed over the Mandakini river, besides the meditation caves.
He also reviewed works ghats being built on the convergence of the Mandakini and the Saraswati rivers.
Mr. Modi also asked the State government to also prepare a development plan for Badrinath in terms of a 100 year vision.
Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said the State would need nearly Rs 200 crore for different works at Kedarnath.
Uttarakhand Chief Secretary Utpal Kumar Singh briefed the Prime Minister in detail about the reconstruction work underway at the Kedarnath temple.