Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra: Officials request Centre not to send any fresh batch until backlog is cleared
Prolonged bad weather and a damaged trek route took a toll on the Kailash-Mansarovar pilgrimage this year with more than half a dozen pilgrims returning midway through the yatra and nearly one thousand mule operators and porters losing their seasonal jobs.
Seven pilgrims had to return after waiting for the weather to clear so that choppersmeant to ferry them from Pithoragarh to Gunji base camp could take off.
The 10thbatch of pilgrims had to wait for ten days at a stretch for the weather to clear to be ferried in IAF choppers from the Naini-Saini airstrip to Gunji, the last base camp on way to the Lipulekh Pass through which they cross over into Tibet.
Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN), the nodal agency for the Yatra, even had to write to the External Affairs Ministry requesting it not to send fresh batches of pilgrims after the 11th batch until the backlog of pilgrims waiting at different base camps and rest houses was cleared.
Airlifting of Mansarovar pilgrims became necessary this year as the trek route to Gunji which was badly damaged in a natural calamity could not be repaired in time, KMVN GM TS Martolia said.
Pilgrims, who returned after successful completion of their Yatra, said the trek route is always preferable as helicopter sorties are heavily dependent on the weather which is usually bad in the region during monsoon.
"Several batchesof pilgrims got unexpectedly delayed on way toGunji. Tired of waiting for the weather to clear for several days some hadto withdraw midway," yatra incharge at TRC Pithoragarh Dinesh Gururani said adding the weather has often been bad since June 15.
The trekroute to Kailash-Mansarovar could not becontinued after the first batch due to heavy landslides at Nazang on way to Gunji from Dharchula.
Nigam officials saidthere was no alternative available this year but the KMVN has always preferred the Yatrato be carried out through the trek route as it is not only less dependent on weather but also givesjobs tothousands of villagers every year.
It wasan essentiallyalternative arrangement this year, otherwise the Yatra isgood from trek route as it givesseasonal jobs toporters, horse and mule owners, wayside shopkeepers, souvenir sellersandseveral others in villages along thetrek route, said Martolia.
Nearly one thousand porters, mule and pony operators and local craftsmen run their trades along the 57 Km stretch between Lakhanpur to Lipulekh during the Yatra season and the earnings take care of them throughout the year.
Due to absence of trek route this year the Nodal agency had to "abandon" over 225 pilgrims who had booked for Chota Kailash at Jolingkonginside Indian territory.
We have incurred heavy loses inabandoning the Chota Kailash Yatra this year due to damaged track route, Martolia said.
The pilgrims of the 10thbatch,who had to waitfor 10 days waiting for clearweather on Pithoragarh to Gunji air route, even demonstratedlast week at Naini Saini air strip demanding that the Yatra be conducted through the trek route.
The Governmentshould have taken extra care to ensure that the trek route was repaired in timetoavoid such longdelays in Yatra said Pradhumn Singh Rana, member of the 10th batch who led the demonstration.
Roshan Lal Sharma, liaison officer ofthe 9th batch that reached Pithoragarh after waiting13 daysat Gunji on August 9said, "Had the Yatra been by trekroute the pilgrims could have witnessed the beauty of terrains from Pithoragarh, Didiihat, Dharchula tovillages of Vyasand Chaundas valley".
The air lifting also deprived pilgrims of the pleasure of visiting places described in Manas Khand of Skand Puran whichform part of the traditional route to Kailash Mansarovar, Sharma said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)