Alert cop’s warnings saved many on Uttarakhand landslide route to  Badrinath
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Alert cop’s warnings saved many on Uttarakhand landslide route to Badrinath

A beat constable at Vishnuprayag noticed the first signs of a landslide, helping police stop movement on the key road to Badrinath moments before a part of hillock crashed on it.

india Updated: May 20, 2017 17:50 IST
Prithviraj Singh
Prithviraj Singh
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
landslide,uttarakhand,char dham yatra
Officials raced to clear the boulders from the stretch leading to Badrinath, which has now been blocked due to Friday’s landslide. (PTI photo)

The alacrity of a beat constable helped hordes of pilgrims in Uttarakhand avoid on Friday a landslide on a key road that stranded thousands headed to the Badrinath shrine.

State police officials said the constable noticed around noon small rocks rolling down the Hathi Parvat, one of the most landslide prone zones, at Vishnuprayag.

He alerted senior officers at the district headquarters in Chamoli, and more men were deployed on the stretch.

“At first, we helped people pass the stretch. But soon, more rocks started to fall and we immediately stopped movement,” said Tripti Bhatt, the superintendent of police, Chamoli.

At 2pm, two hours after the constable had spotted the first signs, a big portion of a hilltop came crashing down.

The ‘Char Dham yatra’ – an annual pilgrimage to the Hindu sites at Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gamgotri and Yamunotri – has been temporarily halted for Badrinath.

The pilgrimage draws lakhs of people from India and Nepal to the Himalayan state every year.

Landslides and flashfloods killed an estimated 5,000 people – most of them pilgrims –in 2013 when heavy rains triggered a deluge in the Kedarnath valley. The unofficial death toll, however, was pegged around 10,000 as many bodies were never found.

“While around 11,000 pilgrims have been stationed at Badrinath shrine area that has the capacity to accommodate 80,000 pilgrims, nearly 1200 were taken to safe places at Govindghat area and 450 pilgrims—those coming back—were stopped at Pandukeshwar,” Bhatt said.

The border roads organisation (BRO), the state disaster relief force and local police were attempting to reopen the stretch, which the chief minister assured would be done by Saturday.

“...There were no unfortunate incidents, 1800 tourists (against reported 15K) were affected & arrangements were made for them (sic),” CM Trivendra S Rawat posted on Twitter.

First Published: May 20, 2017 13:48 IST