BHUBANESWAR: The Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Sambalpur Vishwanath Neelannavar has become the first IFS officer from the State to cycle through Khardung La mountain pass - world’s highest motorable road - in the Leh district of Ladakh. Located at an altitude of 17,982 ft (5,359 m), the pass is also called the Mount Everest for cyclists.
Vishwanath was one among the 79 cyclists who opted for the difficult cycle expedition organised by New Delhi-based Youth Hostel Association of India. Vishwanath and the group covered a total stretch of 574 km during the expedition which started from Manali on July 11.
After covering a distance of 490 km, the group reached Leh on July 22. It covered another 42 km to reach the Khardung La pass on July 23 and returned to Leh the same day to complete the expedition. The forest officer informed that his expedition was aimed at promoting awareness on protection and conservation of forests and wildlife.
Though 79 persons had participated in the expedition, only 35 were able to successfully reach the 17,982 ft altitude, Vishwanath said. He added that the group crossed five mountain passes - Rohtang La, Baralacha La, Lachang La, Nakee La and Khardung La - to reach the top. “It was very cold and the temperature ranged from 24 degree C at day time to 0 degree during night. We stayed in tents and prepared food at the camp”, he recalled his experience in the difficult terrain.
Vishwanath, who has been cycling during his field visits, said seeing him pedal has encouraged many youngsters in his office to take up cycling for physical fitness.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forest and HoFF Sisir Kumar Ratho, who congratulated Vishwanath on his achievement said, “This achievement will help in reviving interest among the youths towards fitness which in turn will strengthen forest protection.”