Friday, 20 May, 2022 | Gajendra Singh Negi | Dehradun
The surging crowds of pilgrims , deaths of devotees, complaints of gross mismanagement, traffic snarls and lack of facilities in the shrines have once again underlined the need for a system to properly plan, regulate and monitor the famed Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand. Interestingly the Uttarakhand government which is at the receiving end from various quarters on Yatra mismanagement and chaos has got limited powers in basic management of these shrines.
The Badrinath Kedarnath Temple Committee (BKTC) formed under archaic act of 1939 is responsible for managing the Kedarnath and Badrinath shrines while local trusts oversee the management of the Gangotri and Yamunotri shrines. The government headed by the then CM Trivendra Singh Rawat constituted the Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board in January 2020 after which the management of the Char Dhams and 49 other temples came under the Board. Wary of losing turf in the crucial assembly elections of 2022 to opposition Congress which was backing the protests of Teerth Purohits and other stakeholders against the board, the Pushkar Singh Dhami government repealed the Board in November 2021 and the old system of management of these shrines was reintroduced.
The ever effervescent and powerful minister heading the colossal Education department of the state got a taste of the muscle power of the teachers when he was forced to retrace his steps on reducing the duration of the summer vacations in the state. The diminutive minister who remains ever eager to incorporate changes in the system made a plan to reduce more than a month long summer vacation by 15 days in order to compensate the loss incurred due to long breaks in learning due to the pandemic of Covid-19.
However, a strong opposition from the teachers forced the minister to drop the plan. The minister then decided to cut the vacations for only five days so that his mega plan on holding mass pledges in the schools of the state on the occasion of World No Tobacco Day (May 31) is fulfilled. To his shock this proposal also met with stiff opposition from the teachers. Instead of inviting the wrath of teachers who enjoy an immense clout due to their numbers, spatial distribution and intellect the smart minister beat a hasty retreat by merely postponing the summer vacations by five days from the earlier scheduled date.
Known for his charismatic personality, great oratorical skills and an excellent fashion sense, the Uttarakhand cabinet minister Satpal Maharaj grabbed eyeballs in a recent programme with his attire. In the event he wore a jacket which was a beautiful collage of posters of Bollywood blockbusters. Those present in the programme believe that the manner and poise in which the minister carried him during the entire event can put any Bollywood star scurrying for cover.
Instead of taking pride on having such a colourful and fashionable Mantri, many in Uttarakhand are questioning his jaunts outside the state at a time the department headed by him is inviting all round flak for gross mismanagement and lack of proper preparations for the ongoing Char Dham Yatra which is attracting pilgrims in droves this year. The cynical fellows can never fathom the depth of Maharaj’s deep understanding of things, wisdom and his vision for betterment of the state.