Centre positive about helipad at Hemkunt Sahib

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Chandigarh, July 25 (UNI) The Centre has given "in principle" clearance to the Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Sing Badal's proposal for setting up a helipad close to the holy and historic Gurdwara Sri Hemkunt Sahib.

The Hemkunt Sahib in Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand, one of the holiest Sikh Shrines, is visited by lakhs of pilgrims every year.

The 10th Sikh Guru Guru Gobind Singh had worshiped here for a long time.

The means of commuting at this moment are limited as know mechanical conveyance can reach the shrine because of excessively steep climb up to the snow-peaked terrain.

The path of about 19 km from Gobind Ghat to Hemkunt Sahib mainly passes through Reserved, Proctcted forests while a small portion of about 3.5 km passes through non-forest areas. The area around the holy shrine of Hemkunt Sahib is a Reserved Forest.

Divulging the details of the meeting, Chief Minister's Media Advisor Mr Harcharan Bains said that Mr Badal had a detailed interaction with Union Minister of State for Forest and Wild Life S Regupathy who has asked the Punjab Government to route the proposal case through the Government of Uttrakhand.

The Centre's clearance is needed in view of the fact that the command area falls in a forest zone.

Mr Badal also sought the Centre's permission for setting up an expansive and well-equipped concrete edifice to accommodate and house thousands of devotees who visit the shrine every year.

Present make shift, rickety and unstable structure at Gurudwara Sri Hemkunt Sahib needed to be replaced with the concrete structure capable of withstanding the tough whether conditions prevailing there to provide safe and comfortable shelter to the visiting pilgrims who have to experience unspeakable hardships there.

Mr Badal demanded that the development of infrastructure and facilities for pilgrims around the Shrine in a radius of about 200 metres would require diversion of about 12 hectares forest land for non-forestry purposes and permission from Ministry of Environment and Forest , GoI was required under Forest Conservation Act,1980.

He emphasised the need to improve the path from Gobind Ghat to Gobind dham and up to Hemkunt Sahib Gurudwara and provision of facilities like lights, toilets, shelters etc also required permission under Forest Conservation Act,1980 at some places, whereas at other places, such facilities could be developed in non forest areas.

The Forest Minister assured Mr Badal that he would soon get the entire proposal examined from the Minsitry of Environment and Forest under the forest laws for the development of infrastructre and facilities for pilgrims around the holy shrine of Shri Hemkunt Sahib, Mr Bains said.

UNI JN MMS2031

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