Joshimath is now safe and there is no fear in people's minds, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said on Saturday as he flagged off the two-day Auli marathon from the subsidence-hit town.
The event is being organised in the temple town to send the message that Joshimath is safe.
Joshimath hit the headlines in January when huge cracks in houses, fields and roads caused by land subsidence forced people to vacate their homes and shift to relief centres.
More than 300 athletes from different states are taking part in the marathon being organised by the Uttarakhand Ski Mountaineering Association and the Sky Running Association.
Speaking at the flag-off ceremony on the premises of the Narsingh and Nav Durga temple, Dhami said, "It is a matter of pride for us that a marathon of such a grand scale begins from Joshimath. We are trying to take several other measures to promote tourism in Uttarakhand."
Everything is now safe in the town and there is no fear in the minds of people, he said.
"An atmosphere of fear about Joshimath was created in the initial days of the problem. But everything is normal here. The state government has taken positive steps to overcome the problem.
"As a result, more than 11.30 lakh people have already registered for the Char Dham Yatra, which begins on April 22," the chief minister said.
It seems that the number of pilgrims this time will break the record influx seen last year, he added.
Around 46 lakh people visited Uttarakhand for the yatra last year.
"Auli and Joshimath are absolutely safe now and ready to welcome devotees coming for the annual pilgrimage. The marathon being held in Joshimath is proof of this," Dhami said.
Athletes from Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Maharashtra and Uttarakhand, among others, are taking part in the sky running and the sky ultra race being organised as part of the two-day marathon.
-With PTI Input