Improving safety for pilgrims at Kedarnath

Improving safety for pilgrims at Kedarnath

0 have signed. Let’s get to 500!
At 500 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!
Manasa G started this petition to Tourism Minister of Uttarakhand Shri Satpal Maharaj and

It is again that time of the year when the Kedarnath Temple opens its doors in April to thousands of pilgrims for their holy yatra. 

Kedarnath temple for Lord Shiva is situated in the Gharwal Himalayan range in the state of Uttarakand, India. It is one of the four major sites of the Char Dham pilgrimage of the Northern Himalayas. Located at 3583m above sea level, Kedarnath is one of the highest places for tourists and pilgrims to visit. Due to the nature of the location and risks involved in getting there, the temple is only open during warmer months, between April - November.

The Ministry of Tourism Development of Uttarakhand has taken steps to streamline the visiting process. 

Tourists currently have 4 ways to access the temple. Each of these come with its own pros and cons, but all involve inherent risks. 

(1) Trekking from Gaurikund 

(2) Horse/Ponies from Gaurikund 

(3) Helicopter 

(4) Palanquin ride 

I was inspired to create this petition following my mother’s accident on September 2nd 2019, when she and her party were descending from Kedarnath Temple by pony.She suffered a severe fall from her pony, resulting in Traumatic Brain Injury, and needed to be evacuated by helicopter to a local army base hospital, where she could not treated. From there, she was transferred, in that rugged terrain, to AIIMS Rishikesh, where she was admitted, over 12 hours after the original accident. I am very grateful to the doctors and officers who were able to save her life. However, my mother, who is in her early 50’s, was left with severe and lifelong consequences following the accident, making her a dependent and needing help, after leading a life as an independent woman all her life.

Following my mother's accident, I spoke with several other acquaintances who did the same pilgrimage and many expressed their regret for choosing to travel by pony during the descent. Since a majority of pilgrims who choose to go by pony are the elderly or over 50, special measures are absolutely necessary for their safety. 

I am listing some precautionary measures that can be implemented in three phases. I petition the Tourism Minister of Uttarakhand Shri Satpal Maharaj, Tourism Secretary Shri Yogendra Tripathi, Chief Minister of Uttarakand Shri  Trivendra Singh Rawat, Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi for the safety of People (pilgrims and pony walkers) and Ponies. 


Victory Conditions
for this petition are, when 

(1) Helmets for pony riders are made mandatory 
and 
(2) at least 3 other safety measures from Phase I would be implemented. 

Phase I

**********

(1) Safe roads with paved blocks.

(2) Make sure that the men managing the pony are licensed, and have a valid ID and permit. 

Because the boys who manage the ponies are usually not licensed, underage, and oftentimes unable to manage the pony and the rider. Several of them work as contractors to licensed pony owners.

(3) Put warning signs at the top of the hill informing pilgrims that  riding on the pony downhill is more risky than the uphill ride. Pilgrims using the service do so at their own risk. 

(4) Make sure that ponies are well fed. 

(5) Easy access to Health and Safety coordinators.

(6) Have a different time slot for ponies going downhill without any load (especially since ponies that carry cargo and construction materials uphill go empty downhill and consequently move faster than expected) 

(7) Ponies that carry people should be allowed to go downhill only at certain times of the day. 

(8) Provide sufficient warning and precautionary measures during rain and bad weather days.  The slippery slabs laid on the route make the ride a treacherous experience for people and ponies. 
This system can use automatic weather stations to provide real-time data that can be broadcast to everybody in the area using wireless emergency alerts, in the event of floods, landslides, predicted heavy rain . 

Phase II

*********

(1) Employ buggy rides for elderly people from the top of the hill where the pony ride ends, to the temple location which is about 1km away. 

Phase III

**********

For the future, a feasibility study for a cable funicular should be explored, to provide greater convenience for people with limited mobility.

While my family has experienced a near tragedy, I want to ensure that we can learn from this episode. 

Join me in asking the Tourism Minister of Uttarakhand Shri Satpal Maharaj, Tourism Secretary Shri Yogendra Tripathi, Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Shri Trivendra Singh Rawat, Prime Minister of India Shir Narendra Modi to add safety measures to make pilgrimages in Kedarnath safer for everyone in the present and future. 

 


Regards,

Manasa - a mother, wife, daughter, sister, and a beloved granddaughter. I do not wish this tragedy upon anybody. Help me raise awareness and bring about change. 

I am nobody on the internet. If you wish to follow any posts regarding the accident, here is my social media account

facebook twitter 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 500!
At 500 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!