NEW DELHI: The Uttarakhand Government on Friday suspended the Kedarnath Yatra for two days, after the Meteorological Department warned heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places in the region till Sunday.
Local people near Alaknanda, Mandakini and Bhagirathi are being evacuated to safer places. State officials said owing to the landslides triggered by incessant rain pilgrims were asked to remain at strategic locations identified by the district administration.
“We have deployed the National Disaster Response Force and state officials to deal with any eventuality. Some roads in Chamoli and Uttarkashi are blocked because of the landslides, but the work is on to reopen the routes as soon as possible,” Information Officer in Chief Minister Secretariat Malkeshwar Kalkuri said and added that a team was constantly monitoring the weather situation and pilgrims were advised accordingly.
The National Disaster Management Authority, while asking the state government to be vigilant to deal with any situation, said the heavy to very heavy rainfall would occur at a few places, with extremely heavy falls at isolated places over Uttarakhand on Saturday and Sunday. A special task force had on Thursday rescued over 150 pilgrims stranded near Inchauli on Sonprayag-Kedarnath trek in Rudraprayag district and shifted them to safer locations in Gaurikund. According to officials, the incessant rains also blocked the roads at Guptkashi, Phata, National Highway connecting Kedar valley and the main road with Kedarnath and Gaurikund.
“All the pilgrims are safe and we are prepared to deal with any eventuality. Most of the roads were cleared for the pilgrims and some others will be opened as soon as the rain stops,” Kalkuri said.
In 2013, flash floods in the state had taken 4,009 lives and destroyed 9,313 hectare crop and 3,112 hectare agriculture land. The centre had approved `2,452 Crore reconstruction package for 2013-14 and earmarked `2852 crore for 2014-15. In Rudraprayag district, Agastyamuni, Jakholi and Ukhimath were the most affected, with Ukhimath alone reporting 584 deaths.