DEHRADUN: Around the Hindu pilgrim centre in Kedarnath, nearly 200 labourers have been working relentlessly in biting sub-zero temperatures to ensure timely redevelopment of the place ruined by flash floods and landslides in 2013.
Rudraprayag District Magistrate Mangesh Ghildiyal said the Uttarakhand government was leaving no stone unturned to ensure the first phase of the township rebuilding projects around the revered Himalayan shrine is completed on time.
The shrine is located nearly 12,000 feet above sea level.
According to official estimates, around 5,000 pilgrims a day trek to the Kedarnath Temple, one of the four sacred sites on the Char Dham pilgrimage, between May and October.
The area around the shrine was devastated in massive flash floods and landslides triggered by monsoon rains four years ago. A large number of concrete structures around the shrine were razed to the ground and more than 5,000 people died in the disaster.
The redevelopment of the shrine is high on the agenda of BJP governments in the state and at the Centre. Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered prayers at the shrine on October 20, a day before its closure for the winter season.
During the visit, he laid the foundation stone of five projects - worth nearly Rs 700 crore - under the Kedarpuri redevelopment plan. The plan is to be implemented in several phases.
Modi also reviewed the work being carried out at the temple recently, indicating he was monitoring the progress of the projects.
"The high-altitude shrine has become the centre of a flurry of construction activities. Around 200 labourers with heavy-building equipment are working till late in the night to meet deadlines set for different projects in the first phase of the redevelopment plan," District Magistrate Ghildiyal told PTI.
Ghildiyal hoped that the weather remain favourable to ensure the work can be done without disruption.
The night temperature at the shrine has remained around minus 2 degree Celsius these days, and the effort is to get maximum work done before it gets bitterly cold, he said, adding the labourers have been provided jackets, gloves, shoes and warm socks to help them fight the cold condition.
The focus is on the construction of projects worth nearly Rs 200 crore in the first phase, including building of a 50- metre wide road from the Sangam to the Kedarnath Temple, safety walls and banks along the Saraswati and the Mandakini rivers, and reconstructing Adi Guru Shankaracharya's tomb, which, too, was ruined in 2013, the district magistrate said.
The construction of the safety wall-cum-bank along river Saraswati and the road to the temple has begun, and detailed project reports for retaining the wall along Mandakini and the tomb of the Adi Guru were in the final stages of preparation.
Architects have surveyed the place, where the tomb of the Adi Guru is to be rebuilt, and the area behind the temple.
Ghildiyal said work on the approach road to the temple as well as 30-40 per cent work on building of the safety walls should be complete by the next Yatra season, which begins in April-May.
However, he added, much will depend on the weather. The weather turns highly precarious during winters due to heavy snowfall.