Human activity poses threat to Gangotri Temple

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Gangotri (Uttaranchal), May 29: An 18th century's temple dedicated to Goddess Ganga located near Gangotri in Uttarakhand is facing threat due to increased human activity and environmental degradation. Increased human activities and deforestation is causing soil erosion in the region. As a result, the rivulet that culminates near the temple and merges with Ganga river during rains is flooded with storm water bringing along sand and silt to the temple threshold.

"The site needs to be preserved. The way this rivulet gets flooded with water and the way it causes landslides are very dangerous. When it rains, all the silt and sand comes here causing landslides. During winters, when there is heavy snowfall, glaciers also come down," said Swami Raghuvendra Nand, a resident. "This rivulet needs attention. There have been many incidents. The priests and devotees had to run away from the place many a times," said Dhaam Singh, a resident.

Construction activity in the area has taken its toll on the Gangotri Temple and other places of tourism and pilgrimages in the vicinity. A research done by Geological Survey of India (GSI) reveals that Gangotri glacier slided back by ten metres every year between 1935 and 1956. While between 1956 and 1995, it shrinked by 27 to 30 metres and further by 76 metres between 1996 and 1999.

The depleting glacier has also been a major concern for the local population and hermits who have set up hermitages in the Himalayan region. The authorities said that they are already working on an action plan to save the temple and the glacier.

"Attention needs to be paid to the upper reaches also. We are planning out a strategy with the GSI. We will comply with whatever they suggest," said R. Minakshi Sundaram, District Magistrate, Uttarakhand. Perched at a height of 3042 meters, the Gangotri Temple was constructed in the early 18th century by a Gorkha Commander, Amar Singh Thapa.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims throng the sacred temple between May and October.


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