As many as 1,580 pilgrims will take part in the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra to China this year, with 500 of them taking the Nathu La pass route, the government said on Wednesday.
The 2018 yatra will be held from June to September through the Lipulekh route in Uttarakhand and the Nathu La route in Sikkim. The Nathu La pass route was shut by the Chinese after the Doklam standoff in 2017.
"There will be 18 batches of 60 yatris each in the Lipulekh route and 10 batches of 50 yatris each in the Nathu La route," Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh said in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha.
In 2017, following the Doklam standoff between the forces of India and China, a total of 392 pilgrims selected for travel to Kailash Mansarovar via the Nathu La route in eight batches were affected, the minister told the House.
China had refused permission to the pilgrims to undertake the yatra from the Nathu La route, saying that it would allow it only if India moved its troops from the Doklam area near Sikkim.
However, the yatra from the Nathu La side has resumed.
In 2015, 999 pilgrims undertook the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. In 2016 and 2017, 983 and 919 pilgrims respectively undertook the pilgrimage.
In response to yet another question on whether China is opposing India's efforts to construct a road and for providing other infrastructure facilities along the China-Tibet border on the Indian side, Singh said the government gives "careful and specific attention" to the improvement of infrastructure for the development of border areas in order to facilitate the economic development of these areas as also to meet India's strategic and security requirements.
"The Government does not allow foreign governments to interfere with government's right to undertake such improvement of infrastructure within India's territory," Singh added.
(With inputs from agencies)