New Delhi, July 1: Faith is a big business and in India it is part of life and livelihood. Because, someone's faith is somebody's livelihood means that the Uttarakhand government cannot shut pilgrimage to Char Dhams.
From Haridwar to Kedarnath, lakhs of people depend on the economy generated by the pilgrims. Hotels, eateries and transport sector have heavy stakes in the seasonal flow of pilgrims and tourists to Char Dhams (Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri).
The Uttarakhand government is aware of this as nearly 40 percent of state's revenue is generated in pilgrim towns.
To begin with, the government should allow helicopter services to the pilgrim places. For this they need to clean up the temple towns and this act itself will revive the local economy.
The Uttarakhand government has promised free ration for one month to the flood-hit people, but this is a temporary arrangement involving lot of agencies. Locals may not benefit much unless pilgrim-economy begins to take shape.
The Char Dhams are not modern temples but ingrained in Indian tradition and mentioned in scriptures. They are part of Hindu faith and the government cannot stop it.
The Uttarakhand government has to announce a time-bound plan to rebuild the towns and lives of the locals.
The government can restrict the numbers, allow a fixed quota of people to these hill towns and thus stem the damage to the ecology.
In future, the government should also take weather forecast seriously.