Center agrees to helipad at Hemkunt Sahib

The Government of India gave its clearance to CM Badal's proposal for setting up a helipad close to the holy and hi...

CHANDIGARH: In a land mark development the Government of India gave its "in principle" clearance to the Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal's proposal for setting up a helipad close to the holy and historic Gurdwara Sri Hemkunt Sahib.

It may be recalled that the Hemkunt Sahib in Garhwal Himalayas is one of the holiest Sikh Shrines, and is visited by lacs of pilgrims every year. In his previous incarnation as Rishi Dusht Daman, the 10th Master of the Sikhs, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, worshiped here for a long time.

The path of about 19 kms from Gobind Ghat to Hemkunt Sahib mainly passes through Reserve /Proctcted forests. Only a small portion of about 3.5 kms passes through non-forest areas. The area around the holy shrine of Hemkunt Sahib is legally 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 the, the Union Minister of State for Forest and Wild Life Mr.S.Regupathy  who  asked the Punjab Government route the 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 Center'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 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. Present make shift, rickety and unstable structure at Gurudwara  Sri Hemkunt Sahib needed to be replaced with the concrete structure  capable of  with standing the tough whether conditions prevailing there to provide  safe and comfortable shelter to the visiting pilgrims who have to experience unspeakable hardships there. At least the devotees walking brave all these challenges yet it is the  sacred duty of the State Government to minimize their  hardships.

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 emphasized 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 infrastructreu and facilities for pilgrims around the holy shrine of Shri Hemkunt Sahib.

The Chief Minister was accompanied by his Media Advisor, Harcharan Bains and  Principal Secretary  D.S.Guru, besides Principal Secretary Forest .R.C.Nayyar, Principal Chief Forest Conservator, .B.C.Bala.and Principal Resident Commissioner Punjab Bhawan   Anjuly Chib DuggalVijay Sharma,Secretary Forests and Wild Life GoI also attended the meeting.

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