Army's Central Command based here has started work to open a new 20-km route to Kedarnath Valley, the worst-hit in the Uttarakhand flash floods, as bad weather has been severely affecting relief operations by air.
With MET department forecasting more rains, opening a new land route was the only solution to gain continued access to the 8th-century shrine, an Army release said here on Thursday.
On request from the civil administration and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), teams of the Army's Surya Command here have conducted a reconnaissance of the area and commenced work to open a land route along a fresh alignment, it said.
After much difficulty, the teams successfully established a crossing over the Vasuki Ganga at Sonprayag on Wednesday.
The leading team comprising 21 persons, including four officers, crossed the river and reached Gomkara and camped there for the night at an altitude of approximately 13,000 feet.
Another team with logistical support on Thursday crossed the river at Sonprayag and is now moving on the route opened by the leading team, it said.
This team will establish a staging area in Gomkara. The leading team is presently opening the route to Kedarnath by crossing Dev Vishnu and is heading for Kedarnath, it said.
The new route is likely to follow the Sonprayag-Gomkar- Dev Vishnu-Dhungaj Giri-Kedarnath alignment and will be approximately 20km in length, passing an altitude of over 13,000 feet.
Uttarakhand has witnessed incessant rains in the last few days due to which helicopters have not been able to fly and the relief work has been severely hampered.
The land routes had suffered extensive damage during the cloud burst and flash floods of Jun 16-17 and access by road to the Kedarnath shrine has remained cut off.