Officials at the governor secretariat confirmed the development and said that the Bill has been passed on to the state government’s law department for further discussion on the date of notification before implementation.
In the board, an IAS officer will hold the post of CEO while CM will be the president and there will be other members such as MLAs, MPs and member of the Tehri royal family. Sources said that the appointments in the board and a head office in Dehradun would be made in the next few months.
The board will bring Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, Yamunotri and 51 other temples in the hill state under the ambit of the state government and will also result in the dismantling of the existing temple managements such as the Badri-Kedar Temple Committee. The provisions and composition of the Bill will be like the Vaishno Devi shrine board and Tirupati Balaji shrine board.
Meanwhile, local priests and Congress MLA from Kedarnath Manoj Rawat threatened to launch a protest against the Bill and said that it is against the interests of the priests’ community. Rawat said, “The state government is ruining the century-old Hindu traditions set up by Adi Shankaracharya for Char Dham. This government is doing something which even the British couldn’t do.”
Rawat added that unlike Vaishno Devi, Char Dham has everything in place. “From rituals to appointments and tenure of priests, everything is in place in Char Dham. The takeover will mean dismantling a perfect system that is in place. Why does the government even want that?”
Badrinath priest Ashutosh Semwal said, “Our community is opposed to the new board as it will undermine the existing system. We will soon hold a meeting of all priests to decide the next course of action.”
However, state government spokesperson and Haridwar MLA Madan Kaushik said that the system of head priests, which was set up by Adi Shankaracharya, will continue as it is. “The new board will not interfere in the daily operational affairs. It will just manage donations and the money would be used to develop the shrines.”