Post the final exams of students for the academic session; it is the tourist season in the state of Sikkim. Tourists from across the country are visiting Sikkim to visit attractions like Nathu La Pass, Harbhajan Baba Mandir, Zuluk, Gurudongmar Lake and Valley of Flowers.
From 15 to 17 March, the entire state of Sikkim received unprecedented heavy rains, snow and hail storms. The tourists who were visiting these attractions got stuck at these places as the roads were covered with snow and sleet, making the move of cars and taxis very slippery and risky on these roads. Tourists, who went with the intention of coming back to their hotels at Gangtok by night, did not have any extra warm clothes for such cold weather. All tourists were stranded due to lack of warm clothing, food and place to stay for the night.
It was here, that the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) came to the rescue of these stranded tourists. Border Roads Organisation is a premier road construction organisation of the Government of India under Ministry of Defence. Almost all roads near the border in the country are constructed and maintained by them. In Sikkim, Project Swastik of BRO is responsible for the roads to all these tourist places.
The Karamyogis of BRO Project Swastik went out to help the locals and the tourists in two ways – cleared the roads to allow all tourists to move back to their place of stay and more importantly, provided shelter and food for 175 tourists, including large number of ladies and children, to stay for the night. Seeing the heavy rush of tourists who had no place to stay and no food to eat, the BRO Karamyogis picked up these stranded tourists from the road in their own vehicles and brought them to their camp. Here, they were provided with a place to rest for the night, a hot cup of tea and meals for all. Medical attention by medical staff of BRO was given to those in need of it. Additional warm clothing and blankets were provided to them for the night in view of the extreme cold weather.
The main task of BRO – to maintain the roads, was simultaneously undertaken by the same Karamyogis. They toiled throughout the day and night to ensure that the roads were opened within a short time of 6-8 hours. The heavy duty equipment of BRO worked inspite of continuous snow and rain ensured that the roads were open the next morning for all these 175 tourists and taxis to return to their respective places.
In the morning, the BRO Karamyogis got their own buses from various locations and shifted the stranded tourists from various places to Gangtok.
The tourists and the local administration were very thankful to BRO for assisting, looking after and thereafter evacuating 175 tourists and taxis back to Gangtok.
Source: Indian Army
Report- Pratyusha Mukherjee