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Over 1,000 Char Dham pilgrims stranded

C. K. Chandramohan
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Due to numerous landslips sparked off by incessant rain in Garhwal division of Uttarakhand

Roads fall apart:An earth remover clearing the Badrinath highway after landslips in Chamoli district on Friday.— Photo: PTI
Roads fall apart:An earth remover clearing the Badrinath highway after landslips in Chamoli district on Friday.— Photo: PTI

Over 1,000 Char Dham pilgrims have been stranded, many of them for over three days, at various points along the Yamunotri, Gangotri and Badrinath routes due to landslips sparked off by incessant rain in the Garhwal division of Uttarakhand.

Life has been thrown out of gear in the Jaurasi area of Almora district in the Kumaon division due to heavy landslips, with dozens of vehicles stuck at different places along the Bhowali-Almora highway.

The Meteorological Centre here has issued a warning about heavy rain for South Uttarakhand, i.e. areas adjoining Uttar Pradesh, and at isolated places in the higher hills.

“It is better to avoid travel unless absolutely necessary,” Meteorological Centre director Anand Sharma told The Hindu .

Dilip Jawalkar, Additional Secretary to the Chief Minister, has urged the pilgrims to ensure that drivers ply the vehicles carefully.

“The roads are slippery and treacherous. Any driver breaking the rules will be taken to task. The Char Dham Yatra is something to be celebrated and not spoilt by hasty driving,” said Mr. Jawalkar.

“About three dozen vehicles have been stranded on the Yamunotri highway for over three days now, but the authorities seem to be more interested in keeping the Badrinath or Gangotri routes used by VIPs in order,” lamented Ramesh Singh and others, urging Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna to order the officials to end step-motherly treatment being meted out to the Yamunotri region.

Dozens of vehicles carrying pilgrims were parked at Barkot with the devotees waiting for better weather and road conditions to continue the yatra. Vehicular movement has also been adversely affected due to landslips on the Rishikesh-Badrinath highway in Paatal Ganga, Birahi, Bhimtalla areas of Chamoli district since Thursday night, said the Disaster Management and Mitigation Centre here.

Landslips have also been reported from Bhatwari and Thiran Halkughat areas, disrupting vehicular movement on the Gangotri-Rishikesh highway due to which over 500 pilgrims are stranded.

While ordering officials to ensure the hill roads are free of debris to facilitate safe passage, Mr. Bahuguna suspended the Kalsi Assistant Road Transport Officer for allowing overloading of buses in the region.

Twenty-seven persons were killed when an overcrowded bus fell into a ditch in Tuini area a few days ago. The Chief Minister visited 16 of the injured victims at Doon Hospital on Friday.

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