Uncertainty prevails over the timely start of ‘Mansarovar Yatra' through the Lipulekh pass this year, with preparations for the annual pilgrimage yet to begin.
The pilgrimage begins by the second week of June every year and the preparations for the yatra usually begin two months in advance, but the COVID-19 induced lockdown has delayed the process.
The officials of Kumaun Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN), the nodal agency for the yatra, have serious doubts about the beginning of the yatra on time amid the continuing lockdown.
“Even if the yatra gets the go-ahead of the Indian and Chinese governments and starts on time, the nodal agency feels it will not get enough time to prepare for the pilgrimage,” KMVN General Manager Ashok Joshi said.
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"It is getting too late to remove snow from the trek route if the yatra is to begin in June," he said.
“Snow covers the entire route of 35 km from the Bundi camp to Lipulekh pass and it will take more than a fortnight to remove it," the official said.
Moreover, it is not in the hands of the Government of India alone to hold the yatra, the Chinese government's consent is also needed, he said.
The Kailash Mansarovar yatra, through the 17,500 feet Lipulekh pass, begins by the second week of June every year for which preparations are made by the KMVN, Pithoragarh district administration and the ITBP.
"However, none of the agencies involved in preparations for the yatra have been given any instructions by the Centre this year, so it is a situation of total uncertainty," Joshi said.
Even a preparatory meeting held by the Ministry of External Affairs with facilitators of the yatra, including KMVN, ITBP and the district administration, usually in the month of February, is yet to be held, the official added.Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.