Prayers to resume at Kedarnath shrine from Sept 11: U'khand CM

Dehradun: Prayers at the Kedarnath shrine, suspended since the mid-June calamity in Uttarakhand, will resume on September 11, Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said on Sunday.

Prayers will take place between 7 and 11 am and will continue till the portals of the temple close on Diwali, he said.

Although prayers are beginning, a decision on resuming pilgrimage to the Himalayan shrine will be taken only after a review meeting on September 30, Bahuguna told reporters at the Secretariat here after presiding over a meeting to review preparations for the worship.

It was decided that the Temple Committee would provide a list of 24 people who would oversee the worship, comprising office-bearers and nominated priests. Every ten days, new people will be assigned the duty in rotation, he said adding that the temple would be opened to public once necessary infrastructure is restored and weather becomes favourable.

Prayers were suspended at the shrine after the June 16-17 deluge which caused large-scale damage to Kedarnath valley.

Although the shrine itself remained unharmed in the calamity, adjoining area and structures bore the brunt of it.

Giving orders to make all necessary preparations, Bahuguna asked the administration to make advance arrangements to deal with any bad weather conditions.

Water and electricity facilities have been restored and a bridge to Kedarnath has also been built, he said and added that arrangements for food and boarding are also being made.

BSNL network connectivity will resume soon, though provision of satellite phones is available for now, he said.

Teams of police, NDRF and administration are already present in Kedarnath valley along with a medical team and the temple premises and surrounding areas have been cleaned up, the Chief Minister said.

Last rites of all bodies visible around the area have been performed, he said. In September, only those identified to perform prayers will be permitted to fly to Kedarnath by government helicopters, Bahuguna said.

Commercial use of helicopters will not be allowed and check posts have been set up in Gaurikund, Sonprayag and some other areas to stop unauthorised persons from entering the area, he said.

During the meeting, the Chief Minister also took stock of arrangements being done by Garhwal Commissioner DS Gabryal and DM, Rudraprayag, Dilip Jawalkar, through video conferencing.

Work is on to provide relief material to victims, as well as to rehabilitate the disaster affected people and restore services, he said.

Present at today's meeting were Tourism minister Amrita Rawat, chairman, Kedarnath-Badrinath Temple Committee Ganesh Godiyal, additional chief secretary Rakesh Sharma, principal secretary SS Sandhu, DGP Satyavrat Bansal, secretary Dr Umakant Panwar, representatives of the Shankaracharya, office-bearers of the temple committee, director, state weather department Dr Anand Sharma and others.

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