Kedarnath shrine may get ropeway

Dehradun, July 16 (IANS) The Uttarakhand government is exploring the possibility of constructing ropeway to the Kedarnath shrine, an official said Tuesday.

Officials have discussed the feasibility of erecting it from Gaurikund - the base camp for Kedarnath - to the shrine 14 km up in the hills.

Minister of State for Central Planning and Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla is said to have seconded the idea as a ropeway would make it easier for pilgrims to access the revered shrine.

The stretch between Gaurikund, Rambada and Kedarnath was destroyed in last month's flash floods and landslides.

"Restructuring of the shrine will be done keeping in mind all technical aspects and hazards created by rains and other natural elements," the official told IANS.

Alternate pathways to the shrine will also be explored to enhance safety of pilgrims to minimize the distance travelled on foot.

The Archaeological Survey of India is being consulted in the remodelling of the Kedarnath shrine area.

While rains continue to hamper relief work and the skies will only clear up next month, work on redeveloping the shrine will begin not before October.

"An assessment of the costs involved, technical aspects of a ropeway, meeting safety standards... will be kept in mind before taking a final call," a senior bureaucrat said.

The government runs two ropeway in Uttarakhand. Ropeway is also being explored in Purnagiri and Yamunotri.

The estimated cost of a 3.84 km ropeway from Janki Chatti to Yamunotri is Rs.70 crore, and Rs.35 crore will be spent on the Thuligad-Purnagiri ropeway of less than a kilometre.

Technical studies have been done for ropeway from Binsar Road to Kasar Devi temple in Almora, from Rishikesh to Kunjapuri, from Snow View to Nanital Zoo, from Chakrata to Tiger Falls and at Dayara Bugyal.

The Border Road Organisation (BRO) has been asked to complete work on all damaged roads to the Char Dham Yatra route within a fortnight.

Excavation machines and other equipment of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have reached Guptkashi in Rudraprayag district.

Depending on the weather, they will be airlifted to the Kedarnath shrine to dig out the remaining bodies trapped in several feet of rubble and debris.

In the nature's fury a month ago, most damage and deaths took place in Kedarnath area where hundreds died in the surging rivers and tumbling hills. Hundreds died in the nearby jungles of hunger and exhaustion.

(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at mohit.d@ians.in)

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