ITBP chief S S Deswal has reviewed arrangements for the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra and urged the pilgrims to undertake the holy expedition with an aim to keep the Himalayas and its ecosystem clean, a senior official said Friday. The Director-General (DG) of the border guarding force, which provides manpower and logistics support to the yatra, travelled up to the 17,000-foot-high Lipulekh pass in Uttarakhand along with other officials over the past few days.
The paramilitary force, tasked with guarding Indian border with China, also provides security, medical aid and communication for the pilgrims since the yatra began in 1981. "This is the first time that any serving DG of the force has reached this high-altitude pass on foot. The DG, along with senior officials, also cleaned the area by collecting garbage and took it to the base for its disposal," a spokesperson of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police said.
DG Deswal has appealed to all the citizens and pilgrims that they should strive to keep the Himalayas clean and contribute to keeping its ecosystem balanced, he said. Officials of the force deployed for the yatra will also urge the pilgrims to dump garbage generated during the pilgrimage at designated places only.
"The force personnel have also been asked to ensure that the mountains are kept clean and troops will themselves collect the garbage and dispose of at designated locations," the spokesperson said. The first batch of 58 pilgrims is expected to reach the higher altitude area next week for their onward voyage to Kailash Mansarovar through the Lipulekh pass, he said.
The Ministry of External Affairs organises the yatra from June to September each year through two different routes -- Lipulekh Pass (Uttarakhand) and Nathu La Pass (Sikkim). Known for its religious value and cultural significance, it is undertaken by hundreds of people every year.
This time, there will be 18 batches with 60 pilgrims each from the Lipulekh pass and 10 batches with 50 people each from the Nathu La pass. Two liaison officers will assist each batch of pilgrims. The Yatra involves trekking at high altitudes of up to 19,500 feet, under inhospitable conditions, including extreme weather and rugged terrain, and may prove hazardous for those who are not physically and medically fit.
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