Heavy equipment like bulldozers and rock breakers, to be used to remove tonnes of debris lying in Kedarnath, is still stuck in Guptkashi due to bad weather with intermittent rains and low visibility conditions in the area.
The machines are on way to Gauchar, where they are to be dismantled and loaded into choppers to be flown to the high altitude shrine to be utilised there to clear the debris, an official said.
But all this can be done only after the weather clears up, he said.
Though cleaning of the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine and its interiors is complete, debris removal can be taken up only after the heavy equipment meant for the purpose reaches the shrine and is reassembled there, he said.
If the weather permits, the first phase of the exercise will entail demolishing over 40 damaged structures in the vicinity of the temple and then moving on to removing tonnes of debris under which decomposing bodies may still be lying, he said.
Clearing the debris at the shrine is posing the biggest challenge to the government in calamity-hit Uttarakhand with several government-constituted teams having returned from here without making much headway.
"The task is mammoth and considering the vagaries of the weather, the process of removing the huge quantity of debris lying close to the temple may take a long time, may be months," he said.
Engineering Projects India limited, ASI and GSI experts have also been roped in by the state government to ensure that the debris clearing operation is carried out at the famed shrine in a scientific manner.
Another possibility is the operation being hampered midway due to approaching winter months during which the area receives heavy snowfall, the official said.
The char dham portals, including the gates of Kedarnath, are closed every year in October during winter due to snowbound conditions.
They are reopened during April-May, which means if debris clearing operation at the shrine is given up midway due to snowfall, it can be resumed only next year, the official said.