Rising death toll among Char Dham pilgrims sparks government concern

Within the initial month of the ongoing six-month Chardham Yatra, the administration has heightened its vigilance in response to the significant number of fatalities that have occurred.
Image of Char Dham pilgrims used for representational purposes only.
Image of Char Dham pilgrims used for representational purposes only. (Photo | PTI)

DEHRADUN: Five pilgrims on the Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand lost their lives on Wednesday.

According to the State Disaster Management Center, three pilgrims died in Kedarnath, one in Badrinath, and one in Yamunotri.

According to the information received, the increasing figures of the death of devotees travelling to Char Dham in the high Himalayan regions have become a cause of concern for the government.

Of the total 116 pilgrims who lost their lives during the one-month-long yatra, 80 per cent died of heart attack, officials said on Thursday.

Within the initial month of the ongoing six-month Chardham Yatra, the administration has heightened its vigilance in response to the significant number of fatalities that have occurred.

Speaking to The New Indian Express, State Health Secretary Dr. R Rajesh Kumar stated, "Our biggest dilemma arises when a pilgrim insists on embarking on the journey to the Dhams despite adverse health check-up results. Although counseling is provided to make them understand, in cases of non-compliance, they are required to sign an undertaking. In specific circumstances, elderly and medically vulnerable pilgrims are also advised to return."

Experts believe that people are falling ill due to health reasons due to the change of weather after the temperature suddenly reaches one degree from 43 degrees, and the devotee is dying. Experts say that hypothermia is also a reason behind the death, in which the body temperature drops suddenly due to cold and this results in death.

Speaking exclusively with TNIE, Anoop Nautiyal, founder of Social Development for Communities (SDC) and a vigilant observer of the flow of pilgrims of the Chardham Yatra, explained, "Hypothermia arises when the body's heat loss rate exceeds its capacity to produce heat. Severe cold weather or exposure to cold water are the main factors that can trigger hypothermia".

Nautiyal further told, "The extended exposure to temperatures below the body's normal range can also precipitate hypothermia, posing grave risks to the individual's well-being, potentially culminating in fatal outcomes".

According to information received from the Tourism Department's Yatra section, "The registration figure for the Char Dham Yatra has reached 36 lakhs, out of which 2,194,349 devotees have completed the Yatra. Among these, the highest number of pilgrims visited Kedarnath with 822,019, followed by 542,310 in Badrinath, 384,256 in Gangotri Dham, and 382,122 in Yamunotri Dham. Additionally,63,642 devotees have also completed Hemkund Sahib yatra."

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