What are the calculations behind the Uttarakhand's decision on temples?

State Bureau, Dehradun. Chardham Devasthanam Board After two years of tussle, finally the Uttarakhand Chardham Devasthanam Management Board was dissolved by the government. The government is going to withdraw the related act. Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Tuesday repealed the Chardham Devasthanam Management Act and announced the dissolution of the Devasthanam Board. This decision was taken on the basis of the report of the high-level committee and the cabinet sub-committee constituted in this regard.

The Pushkar Singh Dhami released a statement in the form of a video on Twitter that on the basis of the feedback received from the pilgrimage priests, rights holders and public representatives and the report of the high-level committee constituted in this regard, his government has started the Char Dham Devasthanam Management. The Board has decided to withdraw the Act. This is a big decision for Uttarakhand. It was being opposed for a long time. The priestly community of the state in particular was strongly opposed to this law and the temple management system established through it. A lot of effort was made to convince these people, but they were not ready to listen to anything.

The Dhami government had indicated to take this decision in view of the anger generated among the pilgrim priests and the rights holders regarding the Devasthanam Management Act and the Devasthanam Management Board constituted under it. The Cabinet Sub-Committee submitted its report to Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Monday. After receiving the report, the Chief Minister did not delay in taking a decision on it. On Tuesday, he repealed the Act and announced the dissolution of the board. He also said that action is being taken to withdraw the related Act. It can be withdrawn in the coming assembly session. The Dhami government overturned the decision of the Trivendra Singh Rawat government of the BJP regarding the Devasthanam board.

Report submitted to the Chief Minister last day

However, Dhami's erstwhile Tirath Singh Rawat government had also indicated to step back on the board, given the growing discontent among the rights holders and the Panda community against the Devasthanam Management Board. After assuming the post of Chief Minister in July last, Pushkar Singh Dhami constituted a high-level committee under the chairmanship of former Rajya Sabha member Manoharkant Dhyani. The committee had recently submitted its final report to the government. The Chief Minister constituted a cabinet sub-committee of three cabinet ministers Satpal Maharaj, Subodh Uniyal and Swami Yatheeswaranand to study the report of the committee. Along with this, the sub-committee was asked to give its recommendation within two days.

The decision was taken at the announced time

The cabinet sub-committee, after studying the report of the high-level committee, submitted its recommendation to the Chief Minister yesterday. The government had already made it clear that by November 30, it would take a decision on this subject. That is why the pilgrimage priests were urged to maintain patience till Tuesday. The government took this decision on Tuesday morning. For the last two years, there was a conflict between the teerth-purohits and the government over the Devasthanam board. Opposition parties were also opposing the formation of the board. Just before the election, the government pulled back on the Devasthanam board, avoiding confrontation.

The bill was passed in December 2019

On 27 November 2019, the cabinet approved the Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Bill during the tenure of Trivendra Singh Rawat government of BJP and on 9 December 2019, this bill was passed by the assembly. After getting approval from the Raj Bhavan, it became a law. The government had constituted the board by issuing its notification on February 25, 2020. The Chief Minister was the Chairman of the Board and the Minister of Endowment and Culture was made its Vice-Chairman. Garhwal Divisional Commissioner Ravinath Raman was given the post of Chief Executive Officer of the Board. Many bureaucrats including the Chief Secretary were made its members. Provision was made to nominate one member of the royal family of Tehri princely state, three MPs and six MLAs who believe in Hinduism. In addition, four donors, persons with experience in religious affairs of the Hindu religion, priests and three representatives of hereditary priests were also placed on the board.

When this bill was introduced in the assembly in December 2019, there was strong opposition not only inside the house but also outside it. Even after that, the protest continued. But the government stood firm on its decision as it said that this step has been taken after studying the parallel arrangements made in other states and in view of the coordinated development of pilgrimage centres in the state. This will not only end the chaos seen at the shrines but will also make possible a well-planned and coordinated effort to develop infrastructure to take care of the facilities of the pilgrims visiting here.
51 temples were brought under the purview of the board

A total of 51 temples, including Char Dham, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, Yamunotri and their associated temples, were brought under the purview of the Devasthanam Management Board. Through the board, the intention was to improve the arrangement of these temples as well as to mobilize facilities for the devotees.

The government will introduce a bill in the assembly to withdraw the Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Act. The next assembly session is to be held on December 9 and 10. It is believed that the Devasthanam Act will be withdrawn in the winter session of the Legislative Assembly. Prior to the formation of the Devasthanam Board of Management, the system of Badrinath and Kedarnath was under the Badri-Kedar Temple Committee (BKTC), while Gangotri and Yamunotri had their own temple committees. Now, this system will be restored after the dissolution of the board.

Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said that the place of God has been paramount for us. In these centres of faith, we respect the traditional system that has been going on for centuries. The government has decided to withdraw the Devasthanam Act only after extensive deliberations and consensus. Thanks to all the pilgrim priests, learned pundits, right-holders and all the sections associated with Chardham for giving suggestions on this subject.

About The Author

Chetan Sharma is an Indian fact-checker and news writer, writing news for Ayupp since 2014.

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