The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has approved the development of a ropeway between Sonprayag and Kedarnath shrine in Rudraprayag district as part of its efforts to boost religious tourism in Uttarakhand. The completion of this project will benefit thousands of pilgrims who visit the Kedarnath shrine every year.
A ropeway is expected to significantly reduce the amount of time pilgrims take to reach the Kedarnath shrine, according to officials. Currently, pilgrims must trek 16 kilometers from Gaurikund to Kedarnath, which takes an entire day, while the ropeway will allow them to travel from Sonprayag to Kedarnath in one hour.
In the first week following the opening of the Kedarnath Dham this year, over 14.59 lakh devotees have already visited the shrine, of which over 1.3 lakh used the helicopter service.
Uttarakhand’s government announced earlier this year that work on the ropeway project would begin soon. Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) have already been prepared for the project. There is an estimated cost of Rs 1,200 crore for the construction of the 13-kilometre-long ropeway.
As one of the world’s highest ropeways, the ropeway will reach 11,500 feet (3,500 m) above sea level.
The project involves the transfer to the state government of approximately 26.43 hectares of forest land. State Wildlife Board had previously cleared the project and was sent to the NBWL, the highest decision-making body for clearing projects within wildlife reserves.
Considering the nature of the project, which is to be carried out in forest areas, environmentalists are strongly opposed to such a move in such an ecologically sensitive area. At its 70th standing committee meeting, the NBWL approved the proposal under the chairmanship of environment minister Bhupender Yadav.