Army working on new route to Kedarnath

The 20-km road will be at an altitude of 13,000 ft

Army working on new route to Kedarnath

The Army has begun constructing an arduous alternative route to Kedarnath from Sonprayag to help the Uttarakhand administration reach the holy shrine by road as the main axis may remain closed for months in the absence of road links in many places.

The alignment of the new route will be Sonprayag–Gomkar-Dev Vishnu–Dhungaj Giri–Kedarnath. It will be approximately 20 km in length, passing over an altitude of over 13,000 feet.

The traditional route to Kedarnath from Gaurikund is 14 km. As Sonprayag lies almost another 8 km ahead of Gaurikund, the new route will be longer and more arduous for common traveller and pilgrims, if they wish to use it at a later stage.

The Army, however, is making the new road because the existing one is not usable at the moment and may not be ready anytime soon since there are at least four large stretches where the road has been completely washed away by last month's deluge.

At present, one army team is constructing a temporary bridge over the Vasuki Ganga at Sonprayag. More troops for opening the route will be inducted only after this crossing is successfully made.

No decision has been taken on what kind of road — trekking route or class III road good enough at least for light vehicles—will be made. “That will be done after the alignment survey is complete,” an  army officer told Deccan Herald.

The Army hopes to open up at least a trekking route next week to enable the civil administration to send people by foot to Kedarnath with relief and other materials. Loads of debris and many bodies are still lying around the shrine. According to the Uttarakhand administration, so far only 170 bodies have been cremated.

As many as 50 army personnel have been sent with mountaineering equipment and explosives to create the alternate route. Once the bridge on the Vasuki Ganga is made, more troops will be brought in.

The Army took up the challenging task on being requested by the Uttarakhand administration and the national disaster response force, which now solely depend on helicopter sorties to reach Kedarnath.

But bad weather limits helicopters utility. Uttarakhand witnessed incessant rain in the last few days due to which helicopters have not been able to fly and the relief work was severely hampered.

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