Centre asks U'khand, J&K, Odisha to ensure cleanliness during Amarnath, Kedarnath & Rath yatras

New Delhi, Jun 3 (PTI) The Centre has asked Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir and Odisha to take several steps, including identification of local swachhata brand ambassadors, to ensure high levels of cleanliness during Kedarnath Yatra, Amarnath Yatra and Rath Yatra in the respective states.

Union Housing and Urban Affairs Secretary Manoj Joshi has written to chief secretaries of these states in this regard and asked them to provide for sufficient numbers of public toilets throughout the approach roads to the shrines.

The move comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his 'Mann Ki Baat' address to the nation on May 29, expressed his concern regarding the heap of filth in Kedarnath.

According to a statement issued by the ministry on Friday, the advisory suggests that plastics and SUPs (single use plastic items) should be stopped at the base-camp level for Kedarnath and Amarnath yatris at the time of registration itself.

"All eateries along the approach roads will need to be sensitised about garbage collection, in-situ processing of the food waste through waste to compost/waste to bio-gas units in their premises, usage of bio-degradable cutlery and bags," the statement stated.

In order to prevent indiscriminate littering by visitors, segregated litter bins will have to be placed along the approach roads along with regular emptying of the same, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) said.

"Most importantly, the advisory stresses on large scale people participation, whereby all local NGOs/CSOs/voluntary organisations, self-help groups from all villages and towns on the approach roads are to be identified, sensitised and tagged to work in designated area to ensure that cleanliness is maintained at every step," it stated.

The ministry said "local swachhata brand ambassadors" should be identified and designated for the swachh yatra', and spread the messages of cleanliness to motivate visitors to behave responsibly and help in maintaining cleanliness.

According to the statement, national teams from MoHUA are being deputed to Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir and Odisha, starting this week, to take stock of the preparations underway and also to provide inputs for improving sanitation and garbage management.

Video-conferencing meetings have been scheduled early next week to discuss with state, city and district officials to discuss the preparedness, it added.