DEHRADUN: The rain disaster in Uttarakhand over the last four days has laid bare the human misery and greed. Stranded tourists and pilgrims at various locations in the hill state have bitterly complained of the worst 24-36 hours: the price of a water bottle has gone up to Rs 200 and a food thali comes for Rs 500.
Rati Kapoor, a pilgrim from Delhi who visited the Kedarnath shrine, alleged that she was overcharged for a one-room accommodation. “I came for the Char Dham Yatra with my family members, but got trapped due to the rain. I was charged Rs 9,000 for one room. Normally that room is rented for Rs 1,500-2,500. We were also charged Rs 200 for a water bottle. This is a horrible experience.”
Many others claim that the price of food has gone up 10 times. “I had to pay Rs 500 for a Rs 50 thali. I was shocked, and protested. However, there was no point,” a pilgrim fumed. The tourists have also complained of overcharging by taxis. “Normally, one would pay Rs 100 or so, but we were charged Rs 500-1,000 for the same distance. This amounts to cruelty and is like blackmail,” said another pilgrim.
State Tourism Minister Satpal Maharaj said he had spoken to the district authorities of Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi. “They have promised to take action,” he said. Most tourists were on the way to Kedarnath and Badrinath shrines when rains and landslides blocked passages. The Char Dham Yatra resumed on Wednesday, but to the Badrinath shrine.
Manuj Goyal, district magistrate of Rudraprayag district, said necessary arrangements are being put in place for the well-being of the pilgrims.” Meanwhile, the rising levels of the Kosi near Corbett Tiger Reserve forced wild animals to escape to the higher grounds.
AG Ansari, a wildlife enthusiast from Ramnagar said wild animals were seen fleeing to the higher reaches. “I have not seen such a heavy rain in my lifetime.” A video of an elephant caught in the flow of the Gaula river in Haldwani in Nainital district has gone viral. However, the animal found its way to safety into the forests.
Minister speaks to officials
State Tourism Minister Satpal Maharaj said he had spoken to the district authorities of Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi. “They have promised to take action,” said Maharaj