Even as District Collectors maintain that 2,000 pilgrims have returned so far, it is not yet known as to how many are missing after the deluge

Clueless about the exact number of people from the State who left for the Char Dham yatra through various tour operators, the Disaster Management Department will now press for mandatory registration of all tour operators with the respective district authorities.

According to the new mandate, every tour operator conducting inter-state travel to popular pilgrim centres and other destinations should furnish the names and details of travellers with the respective district administrations to maintain a record.

Though such a stipulation is prevalent now, it is hardly followed. While some big tour operators may furnish information, small-time operators who function on adhoc basis do not maintain such data.

Last year, a private travel agency bus met with an accident on its trip to Shirdi in Maharashtra. The agency did not have the list of passengers or their addresses. Several passengers died in the accident, and it became quite a task to release the identity of the victims and furnish information to the anxious kin.

Following the incident, the authorities carried out an inspection of all private buses and travel agencies and even seized some vehicles that violated norms.

Though thousands of pilgrims from the State are believed to have left for the Char Dham yatra, officials here put their figure at 2,699, based on the information provided by District Collectors.

Mr. Champalal, Deputy Commissioner, told The Hindu that the maximum number of 922 pilgrims were from Hyderabad, followed by 661 from Visakhapatnam. The Collectors said 2,000 people had returned so far. It is not yet known as to how many are missing following the deluge on June 16.

“We cannot say as yet how many are missing. The District Collectors are trying to ascertain from the relatives and family members whether those who have not yet returned have contacted them or informed them about their whereabouts,” he said.

Meanwhile the Disaster Management authorities said official teams that had rushed to Rishikesh, Dehradun and A.P. Bhavan were coordinating with the local authorities and trying their best to reach out to pilgrims from the State.

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