Centre positive on proposal of helipad at Hemkunt Sahib

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Chandigarh, Jul 26 (UNI) The Centre has given ''in principle'' clearance to Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh 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 worshipped here for a long time.

The means of commuting at this moment are limited as no mechanical conveyance can reach the shrine because of excessively steep climb up to the snow-peaked terrain.

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

Divulging the details of the meeting, Chief Minister's Media Advisor Mr Harcharan Bains said 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 Uttarakhand.

The Centre's clearance is needed for the proposal as 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 thousands of devotees who visit the Gurdwara every year.

Present make shift, rickety and unstable structure at Gurdwara Sri Hemkunt Sahib needed to be replaced with the concrete structure to provide safe and comfortable shelter to the visiting pilgrims who have to experience unspeakable hardships there.

The Chief Minister demanded that the development of infrastructure and other facilities for pilgrims around the Hemkunt Sahib 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 route from Gobind Ghat to Gobind Dham and up to Hemkunt Sahib Gurdwara and provision of facilities like lights, toilets, shelters etc which also required permission under Forest Conservation Act,1980 at some places, whereas at other places, such facilities could be developed in non-forest areas.

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

UNI JN MMS KK UCS0929

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