No casualties were reported in a massive landslide on the Rishikesh-Badrinath National Highway (NH-7), thanks to an alert police constable of Uttarakhand Police.
Hindustan Times reported state police officials as saying that the constable noticed pieces of rocks falling down the Hathi Parvat after which he immediately alerted senior officials at Chamoli.
As the rocks continuously kept rolling down the hill, the police closed the route before a huge chunk of the hill slid down destroying a 60-metre long portion of the National Highway near Vishnuprayagat about 2 pm.
The alert policeman helped the pilgrims keep away from the landslide which left thousands of pilgrims stranded who were travelling towards the Badrinath shrine. The Char Dham yatra, the annual pilgrimage to shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri has been stopped until the debris is cleared and the road becomes motorable again.
Officials have said that work on clearing the debris has begun and out of the 1,000 people stranded after the landslide, nearly 800 people have already resumed their onward journey.
Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Trivendra Singh Rawat had instructed the Secretary of Disaster Management Department, Amit Negi, to monitor the situation and arrange for food and lodging for the stranded people.
District Magistrate of Chamoli Ashish Joshi told PTI that the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) personnel are working on a war footing to clear the debris after the landslide and they have assured that the road will soon be operational again.
According to a report by Navbharat Times, the officials have asked the people to avoid any unnecessary travel till the situation is under control. The pilgrims who were on their way to Badrinath, are being stopped at Karnapriyag, Nandprayag, Pipalkoti, Joshimath and Chamoli.
President Pranab Mukherjee had visited the Badrinath shrine, the last Char Dham shrine to be opened this year, on 6 May. Char Dham Yatra was inaugurated by Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat on 27 April in Rishikesh.
Uttarakhand faced a similar situation after heavy rains and landslides left nearly 30 people dead in July 2016.
In 2013, an estimated 5,000 people, most of whom were pilgrims, were killed due to landslides and flash floods which followed heavy rains in Kedarnath valley. Many bodies were never found; thus, taking the unofficial toll even higher.
Updated Date: May 20, 2017 18:13 PM