In a significant decision, the Uttarakhand government cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposal to manage the Char Dham or four holy Hindu temples in the state and 51 other temples on the lines of the Vaishno Devi temple in Jammu and Kashmir and Tirupati Balaji shrine in Andhra Pradesh.
According to the reports, the state government has decided to enact the Chardham Shrine Management Board Act 2019 to oversee the management of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath.
The proposed law will provide for a Hindu cabinet minister to be the chairperson of the shrine board in case a Muslim becomes chief minister, said Uttarakhand urban development minister and spokesperson for the state government Madan Kaushik.
Minister Kaushik added that the new shrine board will work similarly as Vaishno Devi Temple in Katra district of Jammu and Kashmir and the Balaji shrine in Tirupati. He said the move is aimed at improving facilities at all major temples in the state, which would give a boost to religious tourism.
Reportedly, the efforts of the BJP government to introduce such a law is an attempt is to introduce an overarching law to oversee the functioning of Hindu places of worship in the state.
Till now, the temples have been governed by individual committees with government representatives. With the passing of a new law, all major temples in the state including Kedarnath and Badrinath will be regulated by the government which are being currently overseen by the Kedarnath-Badrinath temple committee.
Kaushik added that once such a board is formed, the Chief Minister of the state will be the chairperson. Three MPs, six MLAs, several secretaries and priests of the char dhams will also be included as members in the board, he added. Kaushik said that the chief executive officer of the board would be an Indian Administrative Service officer who will look after the rights of the priests they have been granted previously.
“In case there is a Muslim CM then a senior Hindu cabinet minister would be the chairperson of the board,” he said.
“In the initial phase, the board will manage Char Dham and 51 temples. A bill regarding this will be tabled in the State Assembly in the upcoming session. Once the Act is formed, the board will work on the lines of Vaishno Devi and Tirupati Balaji Shrine Management Boards,” Minister Kaushik said.
The cabinet also decided to form rules and regulations for the modernisation of madarsas in the state.
“The rules and regulations would help in modernising the madarsas. It would help in their computerisation as the government works under PM Narendra Modi’s principle of ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’. Apart from this, the state cabinet also decided to form rules and regulations for the Arabic-Farsi Madrassa Board in the state,” said Kaushik.
In the case of schools which do not have their own buildings, the cabinet has approved a proposal to construct structures using bamboo.