New Delhi, June 4 (IANS) The central government has held out the promise to make safe, hassle-free and environment friendly the 280-km Nanda Devi pilgrimage in Uttrakhand, held once every 12 years, BJP leader Tarun Vijay said here Monday.
Over one lakh people are expected to participate in the "Nanda Devi Raj Jaat" yatra (pilgrimage) in September 2013.
After concerns were raised over environmental impact and safety during the pilgrimage, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee assured that a meeting will be held with the officials of the state government later this week, said Vijay, who is a Rajya Sabha member from the state.
"We have sought a package of Rs.1,000 crore, which will include building roads and bridges, and creating other infrastructure in the area. We have also sought registration of 'yatris' after health check-up," Vijay said.
The 'Yatra' stretches over three weeks and is associated with Goddess Nanda Devi, after whom a Himalayan peak is named. It is held every 12 years, and is scheduled for September 2013. However, of late concerns have been raised over environmental impact of the pilgrimage as well as safety of tourists.
"The 'yatra' passes through a stretch of 280-km. It covers rich bio-diversity areas, specially forests of Durans, the state flower of Uttarakhand," Vijay told IANS Monday.
"When so many 'yatris' (pilgrims) pass through the area, miles and miles of forests will be destroyed by the garbage left behind. There is no infrastructure to deal with such a huge volume of tourists," he said.
"Also there are no roads, and it is risky for the 'yatris'," he added.
Vijay, who met Mukherjee late Sunday evening, said the finance minister assured him that a meeting will be called this week to discuss the issue with the state government and tourism department officials.
The 'yatra' passes through tough mountainous paths. It starts from Nauti village near Karnprayag and goes up to the heights of Roopkund and Homekund.
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