Char Dham Devasthanam Management Act

The Uttarakhand Government recently withdrew the Char Dham Devasthanam Management Act. The act was withdrawn due to the protests from priests and other stakeholders of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the major shrines.

What is Char Dham Act?

  • The Char Dham Shrine Management Act was legislated by the Uttarakhand State Assembly in 2019.
  • The act constituted a board called Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Board. The board brought the Char Dham of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri and 49 other temples under its purview.
  • The Chief Minister was the Chairman of the board and the Minister of Religious Affairs was the vice chairman. Two MLAs of Yamunotri and Gangotri were members of the board and a senior IAS officer was the Chief Executive Officer.
  • The board was responsible for management of temples. It had powers to frame policies, sanction expenditure, budget formulation. Also, the board had powers to give directions for the safe custody of temple jewellery and properties.

How were the shrines managed before the Char Dham act?

Before the act, the temples were managed under the Shri Badrinath – Shri Kedarnath Act, 1939. Under the act, Shri Badrinath – Shri Kedarnath Mandir Samiti was constituted. The Samiti was chaired by a person appointed by the Government. The committee was responsible for making decisions related to funds, donations and development works in and around the temples.

Why was Char Dham Act proposed?

Most of the provisions of Shri Badrinath – Shri Kedarnath Act, 1939 were not relevant to the present context. Thus, the Char Dham Bill was proposed. It aimed to rejuvenate the temples.

Why did priests and other stakeholders protest against the Char Dham Act?

According to the protestants, the Government wants to take control over the financial and policy decisions of the temple. In Gangotri and Yamunotri, the temples were earlier under the control of local trusts. The Government had no say and no share in the donations made by the devotees.

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