June 20, 2013 3:44:00 am
Efforts have been made in Vadodara to safely bring back pilgrims from Uttarakhand,who are caught in natures fury. Anxious relatives and concerned tour operators of Vadodara-based pilgrims in Uttarakhand met the district collector Wednesday seeking intervention in arranging special trains from Haridwar to Vadodara via Delhi for those stuck because of the snapped communication networks and approach roads.
It is estimated that around 2,500 pilgrims from Vadodara went to Uttarakhand this summer. The family members appealed to collector Vinod Rao,through the Baroda Tours and Travels Association Trust,to step in and bring back those who have been marooned there.
Rao said,We have received the request of the families and the tour operators seeking help to remove stranded Gujarati tourists from Uttarakhand. The requested has been forwarded to the state control room for urgent action and we are working out on the logistics to bring back the pilgrims. It might take some time to arrange special trains and other means of travel,but we are working on it.
Babu Parmar,who last spoke to his family Sunday while they were resting at Gaurikund,has appealed to the collector individually. Parmar,whose 13-year old daughter and 11-year-old niece are among his missing family members,is only wishing for their safe return.
My mother,father,daughter and niece are unreachable since Sunday evening. My mother was frantically calling me on Sunday between 8 to 8:30 pm after which she has been unreachable. During that conversation,we could barely hear them as the network was so weak. I only heard my daughter ask me,Papa,how are you? after that the call dropped. I only know that they had moved from Haridwar towards Kedarnath but my mother did not go up as she was having terrible pain in her legs and they were resting in Gaurikund.
Families say the tourists are unable to arrange their return as railway tickets are being sold by touts at exorbitant prices and most pilgrims have lost much of their valuables and money.
A relative of a pilgrim said,My brother has only Rs 500 left with him and one ticket to Gujarat is costing about Rs 1,500.
Siddiq Gandhi of Gandhi Travel & Tours said tour operators have arranged private buses from Uttarakhand to bring back stranded passengers from the flood-stricken areas.
He said,There are many pilgrims,who are stuck in Haridwar and are unable to return because the concentration of the government rescue operations are focused on the upper damaged areas where people are missing.
We have booked about 10 buses from Haridwar to Jaipur,via an alternative route from where they will safely bring back the passengers to Vadodara, he added. The buses arranged by tour operators will arrive in Vadodara from Jaipur on early Friday morning.
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