Home Uttarakhand Govt struggles to manage offline registrations for Yatra, thousands stranded in Rishikesh

Govt struggles to manage offline registrations for Yatra, thousands stranded in Rishikesh


By Arun Pratap Singh

Rishikesh, 23 May: The Government is struggling to manage the Char Dham Yatra registrations and, as a result, thousands of those waiting for offline registrations in Rishikesh and Haridwar have been left stranded. There are a large number of pilgrims in Rishikesh who claim that they have been waiting for more than ten days for the registrations. They are questioning the wisdom behind postponing the offline registrations.

In view of the huge rush at the Char Dhams, thousands of even duly registered devotees are being stopped at various places along the Yatra route before being allowed to proceed towards their destinations. After an open warning issued by the tour operators and the travel agents to withdraw from the Yatra, the administration today appeared to make efforts to pacify the bus operators and began sending the pilgrims stranded in Rishikesh to the Char Dham shrines. Officially, the offline registrations are still not being done and they will remain postponed till 31 May, at least, but in view of the increasing resentment of the pilgrims and the tour operators, some efforts were visible today on part of the administrations to ease the situation by sending many pilgrims to Char Dham shines.

Garhwal Commissioner Vinay Shankar Pandey reached the Yatra Registration Office in Rishikesh today. Here, he conducted an inspection and held meetings with officials of various related departments on how to ease the situation. In view of the warning issued yesterday by the tour operators and bus owners to withdraw from the Yatra, they were also invited by Pandey for discussions. Pandey stressed that, for the government, the safety of pilgrims is the topmost priority and that after safety comes ensuring a smooth journey for the pilgrims. The tour operators on their part reminded the Garhwal Commissioner that, despite having bookings for the buses, they are stranded in Haridwar and Rishikesh for several days. They have not been able to register themselves, so far, for the Yatra and this is causing them huge losses.

At present, there is a backlog of about 6 to 7 thousand devotees in Rishikesh. The administration is now making efforts to send them on Char Dham Yatra on priority. The administration is also claiming that the situation in the Char Dham routes and the temples has eased somewhat due to better management of the traffic. Pandey claimed that the district magistrates concerned are also updating the government about the situation on the ground on a daily basis, so that in view of any possibility being created, the stranded pilgrims can also be allowed to proceed on the Yatra.

Sources said that despite continued restriction on offline registrations, the government is now making serious efforts to allow the stranded pilgrims to proceed further by tomorrow. In case, all goes well, then the government may allow fresh offline registrations earlier than 31 May. For tomorrow, special registrations are being considered. On the other hand, the government is also making it clear that online registrations have been made mandatory.

It may be recalled that thousands of the pilgrims had reached Rishikesh and Haridwar for offline registrations this year too even before the beginning of the Yatra. But, this year, due to unprecedented rush and a record number of online registration, thousands of the pilgrims have been waiting for the past two weeks and the cash they are carrying is running out. While hundreds of the pilgrims have returned already, majority of them are still hoping to manage offline registrations. Most of them have been spending nights in Dharamshalas or hotels while many of them are forced to sleep in the open. They also admit that they had not budgeted for this length of stay while stranded and that they are running out of cash. Almost everyone of them has already made bus bookings for the Yatra and paid in advance and they can’t consider returning without the Yatra.

Meanwhile, the tour operators say that the government could have managed the Yatra in a much better manner. The government should have set a fixed separate quota per day for online and offline registrations or else totally done away with the offline registrations and in that situation, thousands would not have been left stranded in Rishikesh or Haridwar for registrations.