Two WB trekkers die in Himachal’s mountains, 14 others returning: Official

Shimla, Sep 28 (PTI) Two West Bengal trekkers of an 18-strong team died of extreme weather conditions near Khemenger Glacier in Himachal’s mountains while 14 others are on their way back to safety after staying stranded there for several days, an official said on Tuesday. Two others of the stranded trekkers' team had managed to reach Kaza, the subdivisional headquarters of the remote Spiti Valley in the western Himalayas in the Lahaul and Spiti district, on Tuesday on their own, bringing the news of their disastrous expedition to the district administration, he said. The trekkers who died near the glacier in Himachal’s tribal district Lahaul-Spiti were identified by officials as 61-year-old Bhaskardeb Mukhopadhyay and 38-year-old and Sandeep Kumar Thakurata, both West Bengal natives. A rescue team of the ITBP and Army jawans will leave for the Khemenger Glacier on Wednesday morning to retrieve the bodies. The fate of stranded trekkers came to the knowledge of the district administration on Monday after the two members of the trekkers’ team managed to reach the Kaza township. On coming to know of the death of the two trekkers and about the fate of 14 other stranded ones, the district administration rushed on Tuesday afternoon a 32-member rescue team of the Army and ITBP jawans and porters and doctors. The 14 trekkers, meanwhile, had begun their journey way back after leaving the bodies and were located at Dhar Chanko by the rescue team which had started from Kah village in the Pin Valley for the Khemenger Glacier. The 14 trekkers are likely to reach Kah base camp soon while the rescue team will stay at Dhar Chanko today, the official said. Lahaul-Spiti Deputy Commissioner Neeraj Kumar, meanwhile, said the rescue team has adequate eatables and a GPS to guide them. The trekkers will be taken to Kaza Community Health Centre once they reach Kah base camp, he added. A team comprising of six West Bengal trekkers had begun their expedition to the Khemenger Glacier across the Parahio Valley in Lahaul-Sipti district from Arete Mountaineering Club, Kolkata on September 11. They were accompanied by one guide and 11 porters, the official said, adding the trekking expedition was scheduled from September 11 to October 7. The group had taken permission from the Indian Mountaineering Federation. The trekkers had left Batal for Kaza via Khemenger Glacier on September 15 but could not go beyond the glacier due to snowfall, he said, adding the two trekkers died at the glacier due to extreme weather conditions. PTI DJI .

Post-pandemic policies must give adequate recognition to mental wellbeing: FM

New Delhi, Sep 28 (PTI) Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday urged the United Nations that post-pandemic policies must provide for adequate recognition of the mental wellbeing of vulnerable sections. Speaking at the UN's high-level discussion on jobs and social protection for poverty eradication, Sitharaman also said that the UN's proposed accelerated action on jobs and social protection should have digitalisation at the core of the design. She further said that insights from behavioural economics can be leveraged in onboarding those workers who are currently not covered under the formal security net. "One key principle underpinning the post-pandemic recovery with policies integrating health and social protection is the institutional recognition of mental wellbeing of vulnerable sections through psychosocial support. Future policies must adequately provide for this imperative," she said in her virtual address. She listed out measures taken by the Indian government to ameliorate immediate distress, and provide necessary protection to the vulnerable section of the population and said that India's free vaccination programme is globally one of the biggest and the country has covered 875 billion vaccine doses as of today. "India launched a comprehensive economic package under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat to combat the impact of the pandemic and to revive economic growth. The financial package of USD 366 billion amounting to more than 13 per cent of India's GDP was deployed to create employment opportunities for the unorganised sector, strengthening MSMEs and for promoting rural economy," she said. To mitigate the impact of the crisis, over 4 million migrant workers were given assistance, while construction workers were given in situ support to sail through the trying times. More than 100 million rural and unorganised workers received wages amounting to more than Rs 1 trillion. "The comprehensive social protection system envisaged to be created under the proposed global accelerator for jobs and social protection should have digitalisation of public financial management systems at the core of the design. In India, the DBT method enabled Jandhan, the Aadhar biometric identification and mobile trinity helped during the pandemic in rolling out social protection measures without any delays," Sitharaman added. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for accelerated action on jobs and social protection to avoid an uneven global recovery and prevent future crises. PTI JD.