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Home / India News / 2007 / May 2007 / May 8, 2007
Rampant constructions mar serenity of Badrinath shrine
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Rampant constructions mar serenity of Badrinath shrine

Uttarakhands holy town of Badrinath, known for its beatific and peaceful surroundings, is facing the threat of loosing its serenity to rampant urbanisation.

Badrinath (Uttarakhand), May 8 : Uttarakhand's holy town of Badrinath, known for its beatific and peaceful surroundings, is facing the threat of loosing its serenity to rampant urbanisation.

Scores of constructions sites have sprung across the city. The Himalayan town has seen deforestation owing to accelerated construction work and a high level of pollution, attributed by a rush of pilgrims and tourists.

The Badrinath temple dedicated to Lord Badri Narayan or Lord Vishnu was constructed in the ninth century by Hindu philosopher Adi Shankara.

Over the years, the number of pilgrims has increased five fold from 100,000 two decades back, to about 500,000 in the last three years.

Cashing in on such a heavy influx, the hospitality industry has started large-scale construction in the area, posing a threat to the green cover.

The shrine is situated on the banks of Alakananda River in Uttarakhand's Garhwal region at a height of 10,284 meters.

"Earlier the temple was visible even from a distance of half-a-kilometre, but now so many hotels have been built that hide it. Now-a-days, there is so much pollution. All the hotels built on the sides of the Alakananda River throw waste into its. It is a big problem for all the devotees (wanting to take a holy dip). The government should take initiatives to stop this," said Naresh Jain, a regular pilgrim at Badrinath.

The temple authorities, anxious over the spurt of construction near the temple, have appealed to the government to take immediate action.

"Construction of buildings should be allowed only to an extent that it doesn't harm the beauty of the temple in any way. The buildings should not overshadow the temple and restrict its view. We have appealed to the administration to look into this immediately," said Badrinath Temple Committee Chairman A P Makhori.

However, for small shopkeepers, urbanisation is a sign of development and an increase in their income.

The shrine opens only for six months in the summer months and it closes during the winters.

"People come here for six months to earn a livelihood that will last them the whole year through. Therefore, urbanisation is very important in that aspect," said Sandeep Bhatt, a small shop-owner near the temple.

The Uttarakhand Government, while concerned about maintaining the integrity of the temple's beatific surroundings, says it cannot go about demolishing all constructions in the region.

"We will try and stop any new construction or encroachment, but with respect to old encroachments, we will have to be careful. They are basically small shopkeepers who have been there for a long time and we will have to take necessary steps to relocate them," said S K Das, Uttarakhand Chief Secretary.

Pilgrims in large numbers visit the Kedarnath, the Gangotri and the Yamnotri shrines, besides the Badrinath situated in the Garhwal region at the foothills of the Himalayas.


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