‘It is time to repent for turning Uttarakhand into honeymoon spot’


June 22, 2013 17:27 IST

Dwarka peeth Shankaracharya Swami Shree Swaroopananda Saraswati


Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi
In a twist to people’s understanding of Uttarakhand’s monsoon mayhem, Dwarka peeth Shankaracharya Swami Shree Swaroopananda Saraswati has blamed the sex-food-fun oriented consumerism propagated by tour operators in the land otherwise known as “dev bhoomi” for the plight of thousands of pilgrims.

In a telephonic interview from his ashram near Haridwar, the Shankaracharya told rediff.com, “Uttarakhand is the land of gods and goddesses. Here Lord Shiva holds Ganga in his jata (hair). It is the highest tapsaya (penance) possible. Shiva bore the force of the Ganga all alone so that she can flow seamlessly. How can you have honeymoon tourism in Uttarakhand instead of pilgrimage to cleanse the soul and attain nirvana?”

Asserting that these mountains were not for the newly-married to enjoy their honeymoon, the religious leader suggested that the disaster was also brought upon due to the dams that have been built on rivers of Uttarakhand.

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‘Government must cleanse the Kedarnath temple with panchamrut’

June 22, 2013 17:27 IST
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He said, “I want government to find out the sphatik statue of Shankaracharya’s samadhi near Kedarnath temple. It is part of our heritage. I am deeply pained to see so many deaths. I want the government to act now and stop promoting dubious tourism. There should be complete ban on building of dams as well.”

Hailing the Kedarnath temple as a national monument, he said: “The rest of India should help Uttarakhand maintain its environment. The lack of development will create shortage of electricity, but the rest of India should supply electricity in this divinely natural region. We must protect our ancient rivers at all cost. Seventy percent of the water from Bhagirathi and Alaknanda rivers will deplete if we build dams recklessly.”

The Shankaracharya also said that the government should clean the temple complex as soon as possible.

“The government must cleanse the Kedarnath temple with panchamrut (A mixture of milk, curd, clarified butter, honey and sugar). It is time to repent for our wrong deeds.”

Uttarakhand: ‘Silt has reached ceiling fans in homes’

June 21, 2013 12:36 IST

Road torn up by river during Ganga Fury exactly above the final confluence of the Ganga at Devprayag


A Correspondent

A Rediff.com correspondent spells out the trail of destruction in Uttarakhand as it tries to come to terms with the catastrophic monsoons.

The impact of the flash flood in Uttarakhand has been immense downstream as well. The toll and the number of still-stranded survivors is difficult to asses and authorities are also not making any guesses right now.

The bells in Haridwar were not chiming early on Thursday morning and the Nataraj taxi stand was virtually empty in Rishikesh. There were hardly any takers to go up the hill that is usually bustling with activity at all times in day and night at this time of the year.

Most of that traffic is usually directed towards Kedarnath and Badrinath — the two popular places of Hindu pilgrimage in this Himalayan state.

Ahead of Rishikesh, Shivpuri is devoid of any activity and the tea stall owners in Byasi sit glum-faced with no hope of the Kedar-Badri business this season or for a while. The Kedar-Badri route generates the highest revenue in this area.

The government has said it’ll begin work on the roads this year but it is impossible to clear the malba and silt left by the flash flood all over the roads.

Near Devprayag, the final confluence of transcendental rivers that culminates into the holy Ganga, the river has expanded and eaten into the roads.

Uttarakhand: ‘Silt has reached ceiling fans in homes’

June 21, 2013 12:36 IST
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Srinagar has been severely affected by the flash flood.  On Thursday evening, after a gap of five days, water supply was restored in parts of the hill town.

Sections of the town, which are on the banks of the Alaknanda-Mandakini rivers, have been submerged.

This includes Shastri Vihar, where nearly a hundred households had been displaced due to the flood.

From the version of several residents of Shastri Vihar, including Md Shajid and Munna Rawat, the water rose late on Monday night. According to these residents, following incessant rains, the water rose above the perimeter of the ShashastraSeemaBalAcademy’s wall, crossing around 300 metres, rising above 12 feet.

“We were lying awake and the children had gone to sleep as it was 1 am. Around 1:30 am, on the night between Sunday and Monday, I saw the water had crossed the SSB academy campus and was at its boundary wall. I started warning others and went home to pack a few things. At around 2:30 am, the wall cracked and we made a run for it. The water was already at our feet by then,” said Manoj Kotiana, a resident of Shastri Vihar.

What followed has not been seen in more than a century in Srinagar — the water rose and submerged the houses, vehicles and livestock there.

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