New Delhi [India]: The Centre has asked Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir and Odisha governments to take urgent steps to ensure that the ongoing Kedarnath Yatra and upcoming Amarnath Yatra and Rath Yatra are conducted in a manner so as to ensure high levels of cleanliness, ie. swachh teerth yatras are conducted.
In this regard, Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) Manoj Joshi has written to the Chief Secretaries of Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir and Odisha.
The communication from MoHUA specifies various initiatives to be taken for sanitation and waste management. The States have been requested to provide for sufficient numbers of public toilets for both men and women throughout the approach roads to the shrines, and ensure that that they are kept clean, hygienic and usable at all times.
The official statement by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs stated on Friday that all eateries along the approach roads will need to be sensitised about garbage collection, in-situ processing of the food waste through waste to compost/ waste to bio-gas units in their premises, usage of bio-degradable cutlery and bags.
The advisory suggests that plastics and Single-Use Plastics (SUPs) should be stopped at the base-camp level for Kedarnath and Amarnath yatris at the time of registration itself.
In order to prevent indiscriminate littering by visitors, segregated litter bins will have to be placed along the approach roads, along with regular emptying of the same.
Most importantly, the advisory stresses on large scale people participation, whereby all local NGOs/ CSOs/ voluntary organisations, self-help groups from all villages and towns on the approach roads are to be identified, sensitised and tagged to work in designated area to ensure that cleanliness is maintained at every step.
Local swachhata brand ambassadors are to be identified and designated for the ‘swachh yatra’, and spread the messages of cleanliness etc, to motivate visitors to behave responsibly and help in maintaining ‘swachhata’.
National teams from MoHUA are being deputed to Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir and Odisha starting this week to take stock of the preparations underway and also to provide inputs for improving sanitation and garbage management. A meeting via video-conferencing has been scheduled for early next week to discuss with state, city and district officials to discuss the preparedness.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his 89th Mann Ki Baat address to the nation on May 29, 2022, had expressed his concern regarding the heap of filth in Kedarnath. He made an appeal for maintaining the dignity of these pilgrimage sites through purity and cleanliness, as it is imperative that we abide by the resolution of cleanliness.
Swachh Bharat Mission – Urban, being implemented by MoHUA, is committed to create “Garbage Free Cities” through comprehensive sanitation measures, and safe management of solid and liquid waste in all statutory towns in the country.
The centres of pilgrims and heritage where the footfalls are higher are taken up on priority under the mission, the official statement read.
Notably, there are four holy shrines in Uttarakhand dedicated to Hindu Gods and holy rivers of India. The four shrines are situated within the Garhwal Region.
These are collectively referred as “Char Dham of Uttarakhand”. In Hindu religion, Char Dham Yatra holds has great importance and sanctity. It is believed that every Hindu should undertake Char Dham Yatra at least once in a lifetime to avail the blessings of gods adorning the shrines.
Haridwar is the traditional point to start Char Dham Yatra of Uttarakhand. Badrinath Yatra commenced on May 8, 2022 and Kedarnath Yatra on May 6, 2022.
Amarnath Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir is scheduled to begin on June 30, 2022 and conclude on August 11, 2022. Jagannath Rath Yatra in Odisha is scheduled to commence on July 1.