Uncertainty looms large over Kailash Mansarovar yatra from Uttarakhand

BD Kasniyal/Ajay Ramola
GG News Bureau
Pithoragarh/Dehradun, 6th June. The uncertainty looms large over the start of the annual pilgrimage to the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra this year too, as the Uttarakhand government has received no clear direction from the Ministry of external affairs(MEA) yet. The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra was halted due to Covid-concerns last year ad the picture is unclear of it restarting in 2021.

“We have not yet received any communication in this connection from the Ministry of External Affairs Government of India, till date, even if it comes by that time yatra period will be over this year,” said Ashok Joshi, GM and in charge of yatra with nodal agency Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN), Nainital.

It takes months to prepare for the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra and if the MEA gives a nod as of today the Monsoon season will arrive after which conducting the yatra would be a risky venture said the officials.
Thousands of villagers, including porters, horse owners small shop keepers and producers of local goods in the Vyas valley region of the Kailash Mansarovar route, have been hit by unemployment as the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, a lifeline for them, could not be started for the second consecutive year. KMVN sources said.
The Kailash Mansarovar yatra conducted from Lipulekh pass, begins from the Vyas valley region of Dharchula subdivision in Pithoragarh district, annually between June and September. The yatra provides employment to over 1000 porters and horse owners, small shopkeepers on way to Lipulekh.
“The services of villagers who produce local vegetable pulses are used by Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam and pilgrims buy local craft depicting various Gods deities during their return journey but all that economic activity has stopped currently. Said Dinesh Gururani, a KMVN manager.
The Kailash Mansarovar yatra from Lipulekh pass was resumed in the year 1981, after over 20 years due to the Indo-China border conflict in the year 1962.
“The number of pilgrims batches was increasing and KMVN provided the lodging and boarding facilities at Dhar Chula with Pithoragarh being the camp on their return from the pilgrimage and the whole yatra generates much-needed revenue for the KMVN,” said Ashok Joshi, the KMVN officer.

Pithoragarh District Magistrate Anand Swaroop said that he has not yet received any communication from senior officials in this regard so far.
“The preparation for the yatra generally begins from January every year and a meeting with the concerned agencies is conducted immediately, but that meeting has not convened this year giving rise to the uncertainty on the start of the Yatra,” said Anand Swaroop, the district magistrate.
This is the second consecutive years when the prospects of Kailash Mansarovar yatra from Lipulekh pass are likely to be less. The yatra was cancelled last year due to the Covid-19 epidemic.”
“With the construction of 75 km long motor road from Ghatia Nagar to Lipulekh pass the yatra would be smooth and short after one or two years. The road construction was commissioned last year by union defence minister Rajanath Singh and the concreting work is on presently,” said Shalu Dayal, a journalist based in Dharchula, the base camp of the yatra.
With no updates received regarding the yatra, it is highly unlikely that Kailash Mansarovar Yatra will be conducted this year too.
Sameer Shukla, the curator of Soham Himalayan centre for showcasing the heritage of Uttarakhand in Mussoorie went on the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra in 2000 and is of the view that it is once in a lifetime experience and most immemorable pilgrimage he has ever taken.

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