Dehradun/ Rishikesh/ Badrinath, Apr 28 : The Uttarkhand Government has made it compulsory for a pilgrim to complete his journey for Char-Dham pilgrimage at least in ten days in order to control incidences of road accidents.
The authorities have taken several measures to address the safety concerns of the pilgrims raised by the increasing instances of road accidents in last few years on the pilgrimage route.
As the pilgrim season peaks, hordes of devotees undertake the pilgrimage to the shrines in the Himalayas.
Now a pilgrim has to wind up his visit to three shrines at least in eight days, two shrines in six days and one shrine in four days.
"It is a good decision and we will try our best to implement it. The drivers who are in a hurry to drive fast leading to accidents and raising fear among the tourists about their safety will reduce. Due to this fixed schedule such accidents will be brought under control," said Ashok Kumar, Inspector General of Police, Garhwal.
With the onset of summer the pilgrimage season for Char-Dham starts on May 8 and will end in November this year.
With shortage of time among the pilgrims and obliging drivers, who want to make as many trips as possible during the pilgrimage season, lead to road accidents on the tricky mountainous roads.
The authorities feel that fixing the minimum pilgrimage period will improve the road safety record.
"Besides providing rest to the drivers, it will also give time to maintain their vehicle. Moreover, tourists will recover the cost of expenditure for their journey. Devotees who undertake the pilgrimage to get peace of mind can spent some good time rather than finishing the journey in a hurry," said Jeet Lal Dhingra, a devotee.
Authorities will also monitor the alcohol intake of the drivers to prevent drunken driving during the pilgrimage season.
"We are following the rules as per the instructions to ensure the safety of the devotees. We will use instruments to observe if drivers take alcohol during their resting periods," said G. S. Bhandwari, president, Joint Rotation yatyat vyavastha (traffic arrangement) committee.
Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri are the four holiest Hindu shrines in the region all located above 10,000 feet.
According to an estimate, around eight million pilgrims throng the hilly region annually to pay obeisance at the shrines in the Himalayas.