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53 stranded pilgrims return home from Uttarakhand

No electricity, drastically dropping temperatures, and no knowledge of what the future beholds is how tourists — who survived being stranded in Chardham and returned home - describe their experience. So far, 53 stranded tourists have returned home to the city from Uttarakhand.

Nitin Gurav heaved a sigh of relief when he received a call from the disaster management cell on Thursday, informing him that both his parents are safe and have reached Delhi.

Gurav, a resident of Navi Sangvi area, told MiD DAY that his father Jayvant and mother Jayashree had last spoken to him on June 16 after which they were unreachable.

Gurav said, “I don’t know their condition but to know that they are safe is more important. We came to know that they have reached Maharashtra Sadan and will proceed for home on Friday.”

Gurav is among the few lucky people to have been contacted about the well-being of his family members stranded in Uttarakhand.

Employees of Shiv Gauri, a travel company which made arrangements for seventy tourists from Pune including Gurav’s parents to Chardham, said they are yet to find out about at least 15 tourists from the group and said the rest were reportedly safe.

Congress leader Sudhir Kale is among the many helpless people waiting to hear about the well-being of their relatives. Kale’s wife Nilima and mother-in-law Vimal Jadhav were part of the Shiv Gauri Travels group to Chardham.

Kale said, “I last spoke to my wife on June 15 and we received information that they were last seen near Garud Chatti on Monday. Kale added that another group of tourists, who are friends, are stranded at Gaurikund. Devidas Khairnar, a retired government officer who was part of the group, said “We reached Haridwar on June 16 but got to know that Ram Zula bridge connecting Haridwar to Rishikesh was under water. When the condition did not improve, we decided to return home.”

MLA Vilas Lande, who said that around 70 tourists are stranded at Maneri between Yamunotri and Gangotri, said, “Rescue work is going on at a slow pace, and many tourists have not received food and medicines. Authorities have been requested to supply at least the essentials to stranded tourists.”

According to disaster management officer V Banote, a total of 242 people from the city were stranded in Uttarakhand. Banote said most are safe and 24 returned to Pune on Thursday and 29 returned on Wednesday. Meanwhile, some travellers who left Delhi for Haridwar on June 15, returned home to Pune safely on Wednesday. Kirti Mali from Bhagyashree Travels said, “Given the weather, we decided to stay at Haridwar for three days and then return to Pune.” 

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