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Opp to protest proposed chardham board, not holding session in Gairsain in U'khand Assembly

Press Trust of India  |  Dehradun 

The week-long Winter Session of the Uttarakhand Assembly beginning Wednesday is likely to be stormy with the Congress gearing up to corner the government on a host of issues, including the proposed constitution of a chardham shrine board and not organising the session in Gairsain.

Former chief minister and AICC general secretary Harish Rawat said he will stage a dharna at Gairsain on Wednesday in protest against the state government's failure to hold an assembly session there due to cold.

"Uttarakhand and cold are inseparable. I want the Chief Minister to regret and withdraw his remark about Gairsain being extremely cold," the Congress leader said.

He said if the Uttarakhand leaders would run away from cold "what will happen to our plans to promote winter tourism in the state".

He was reacting to Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat's remark that the Winter Session could not be held in Gairsain as it does not have the kind of infrastructure needed to guard against bitter cold prevailing in high altitude areas.

The previous Congress government had built a state assembly in Gairsain and decided to hold at least one session there every year. It is for the first time since 2014 that not a single session was organised there.

Gairsain is an emotive issue in Uttarakhand with the hill people who fought for statehood having been in favour of the remote hill town being made its permanent capital.

Harish Rawat also threatened to stage a token fast cum dharna in front of the state assembly in Dehradun on Thursday against non-payment of arrears to sugar cane growers saying, "Gairsain and ganna (sugarcane) are issues close to my heart."

The teerth-purohits associated with the four Himalayan shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri are also up in arms against the state government for giving the go-ahead for the constitution of the shrine board without taking them into confidence.

Apprehensive that the board will hurt their interests, they have hit the streets burning effigies of the state government at different places, including Uttarkashi and Karnaprayag, over the last few days to oppose the move.

A delegation of teerth-purohits recently met the state urban development minister and government spokesperson Madan Kaushik, threatening to further intensify their agitation if it went ahead with constituting the board without their consent.

The main opposition Congress and Uttarakhand Kranti Dal have come out in support of the teerth-purohits saying they wouldn't allow interests of the priests to be harmed at any cost.

The chief minister has made it clear that a legislation will be brought in the state assembly during the forthcoming session paving the way for the creation of a chardham shrine board.

Describing the move as a significant step towards improving facilities for devotees at more than 50 shrines, including the famous four Himalayan temples in Garhwal region, Rawat expressed the government's determination to bring a legislation seeking its creation during the session.

To be created on the lines of Mata Vaishnodevi and Tirupati Balaji shrine boards, the Chardham shrine board will help in boosting facilities for devotees in a big way, the chief minister saidat an event in Rishikesh on Monday.

Though expressing his resolve to bring the bill, he assured the teerth- purohits that their rights and interests will be protected and they will get representation in the panel.

However, Pradesh Congress president Pritam Singh said all matters of public interest will be raised prominently during the session.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, December 03 2019. 15:25 IST