Citing bad weather, U’khand urges Centre to delay arrival of Kailash pilgrims

The Uttarakhand government on Saturday requested the central government to delay departure of fresh batches of Kailash Mansarovar pilgrims from Delhi owing to erratic weather conditions in Pithoragarh

dehradun Updated: Jul 21, 2018 22:09 IST
BD Kasniyal
BD Kasniyal
Hindustan Times, Pithoragarh
The 8th batch of pilgrims is stranded at Naini-Saini airstrip (above) as copters are unable to fly for the past one week.(HT Photo)

The Uttarakhand government on Saturday requested the central government to delay departure of fresh batches of Kailash Mansarovar pilgrims from Delhi owing to erratic weather conditions in Pithoragarh.

The request came on a day the MeT department in Dehradun predicted heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places in Uttarakhand on Sunday.

The 8th batch of pilgrims is stranded at Naini-Saini airstrip as copters are unable to fly for the past one week. At least 58 pilgrims are waiting for clouds to get cleared so that they could reach Gunji.

Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN) -- the nodal agency in the state for the pilgrimage -- has requested the external affairs ministry to postpone departure 11th and 12th batches of pilgrims.

The pilgrims reach the air strip from Delhi following which they are being transferred through helicopters to Gunji base camp. From there they will walk through Kalapani, Nabhidhang and finally cross Lipulekh Pass to enter China.

“We are short of lodging facilities. The pilgrims that were supposed to return are still stuck at the airstrip. We cannot afford to welcome more pilgrims unless the weather clears,” KMVN general manager TS Martoliya said on Saturday.

According to the disaster management department, 5th batch comprising of 59 pilgrims and 6th batch with 55 pilgrims have reached Gunji on their way to return to India after completion of the yatra. These batches are halting in Gunji awaiting air facility.

The 7th batch with 57 pilgrims is at Taklakot and moving towards Darchin. The 8th batch is at the air strip and 9th batch is at Chakodi in Pithoragarh district.

Dinesh Gururani, a rest house in-charge, said: “The pilgrims are panicking as its 7th day and no helicopter has taken flight.”

Raju Vyas, a pilgrim, said: “We reached the airstrip at 5 every morning in Gunji hoping to fly to Pithoragarh but the weather conditions are unfavourable. It’s an immense pressure and we are also skeptical about our journey further.”

The main Kapkot-Pindari glacier route is blocked for the past two weeks in Bageshwar district. The administration is likely to open it by August 15. At least 4 roads in the district are blocked. A bridge leading to Yamunotri shrine in Uttarkashi district near Ram Temple was washed away on July 16. The district administration has made an arrangement by opening an alternate route.

First Published: Jul 21, 2018 22:09 IST