Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Apr 30:
Thirty out of the 320 Odia pilgrims stranded between Joshimath and Govindghat along the Rishikesh-Badrinath National Highway for the last three days following heavy rains and landslide at Vishnuprayag in Uttarakhand were brought back to safety, official sources said.
They were airlifted from the place in a helicopter and brought back to Joshimath, the sources said.
Earlier in the day, the Odisha government asked Sunil Bhargav, its Resident Commissioner in New Delhi, to step up measures for the rescue of the 320 starnded pilgrims, a majoirty of whom are from Bhadrak, Bolangir, Bargarh and Mayurbhanj districts.
According to reports, nearly 3,000 pilgrims who were on the way to Badrinath have been stranded.
Talking to a local television today, two pilgrims of Bhadrak district—Narendra Kumar Samal and Prakash Nayak—said road communication between Joshimath and Govindghat was completely disrupted after a landslide at Vishnuprayag at about 11 AM on Tuesday,
“The food that we had brought with us was exhausted last night. However, some pilgrims from Uttar Pradesh, who were with us, offered us puri and khichdi today. They have no food with them now. To our utter shock, the police today came to us and informed that the state government has cancelled Badrinath Yatra for 10 days as another landslide at Vishnuprayag this morning has blocked the NH. We have taken shelter at a height of 5000 metres in the mountain at Govindghat,” Samal said.
The two Odia pilgrims also informed that the police have asked them to wait at the helipad at Govindghat from where they would be taken to Joshimath on a helicopter as per the directive of Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan.
“The Dehradun collector also asked us to wait at the helipad from where we would be taken to Joshimath where the district administration has made arrangements for food for the pilgrims. We also received a call from the office of the Resident Commissioner in New Delhi asking us to wait at Joshimath from where we would be flown to New Delhi”, Nayak added.
“We had informed the Bhadrak, Bolangir, Bargarh and Mayurbhanj district collectors to take necessary steps to rescue us from the area at the earliest. There is heavy rain and intense cold out here which has made the plight of the pilgrims miserable,” the two stranded pilgrims informed.