Char Dham Yatra: Uttarakhand govt training drone pilots for surveillance

The hill state has a total of 170 registered drone pilots who are being trained by the Information Technology Development Agency (ITDA) of the state government.
Image used for representation. (File Photo | PTI)
Image used for representation. (File Photo | PTI)

DEHRADUN: The Uttarakhand government is training drone pilots to enroll them to keep an eye on Char Dham Yatra. The intention of the training is also to monitor disaster-hit areas in the state whenever the need arises.

The hill state has a total of 170 registered drone pilots who are being trained by the Information Technology Development Agency (ITDA) of the state government.

Amit Sinha, director of the ITDA said, "All the registered drone pilots of the state are being trained to handle drones for keeping an eye on the Char Dham Yatra. They will be deployed during the Yatra season. A fixed remuneration will be paid for their services."

Officials from the ITDA told that the agency is planning to train at least 1000 drone pilots who can help at the time of disaster. The drone pilots will be the eyes and ears of the government in the air to provide information and assistance in traffic and disaster management.

The Char Dham Yatra will commence next month and a high number of pilgrims are expected to visit the four shrines- Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri.

This year will be the first time after the year 2019 that Yatra is expected to take place hassle-free. In 2019, over 38 lakh pilgrims visited the four shrines. The offerings also came down to a valuation of Rs 8 Crore in the year 2020 from Rs 55 Crore in comparison to the year 2019. In 2021, the number of devotees witnessed a jump in comparison to the year 2020. In 2021 more than 5 lakh pilgrims visited the four shrines while in 2020, 3.22 lakh pilgrims visited the shrines.

Officials said that the numbers dipped due to the Covid-19 pandemic following which the yatra was suspended in 2020. In 2021 the yatra started on September 18, 2021, after Uttarakhand High Court allowed the pilgrimage to the four shrines. The HC had allowed Char Dham Yatra with Covid safety measures and restrictions. A total of 800 devotees were allowed at Kedarnath Dham, 1200 at Badrinath, 600 at Gangotri, and 400 devotees at Yamunotri in a day.

Interestingly, last month, the Char Dham law which was brought in by the Trivendra Singh Rawat government that brought the four shrines and 51 other temples under the purview of a board was abolished. This, following protests by priests and religious organisations. Presently, the management has gone back to the traditional system.

Now, all stakeholders including priests, hotels, restaurants, and homestay owners are expecting good business. The stakeholders include temple trusts, hotels, restaurants, chopper companies that provide rides, transportation vehicles- private and government-owned, owners of mules, and many others.

The yatra provides work to more than 10000 people directly or indirectly forming an economic ecosystem that benefits the shrines as well as the areas around these shrines.

Last year, to compensate for economic damages due to the cancellation of the Char Dham Yatra, religious tourism and other touristic activities in Uttarakhand for a second consecutive year, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Wednesday announced a relief package of around Rs 200 Crore for over 1.63 lakh people in the state.

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