The TSAF camp in Rawada that was washed away by floods recently. File picture
Jamshedpur, Sept. 29: Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF) is on the look out for a new base camp in the Garhwal Himalayas.
The adventure foundation, which lost its last base camp in Rawada to floods, has already requested Uttarakhand’s principal chief conservator of forests to allot a plot to it on lease. It is currently being forced to make do with a temporary camp, around 5km from its original (now flood-ravaged) base camp at scenic Rawada in the Gangotri region, where 658 adventure junkies are taking part in the winter stint of the foundation’s outdoor leadership course.
Officials said Bachendri Pal, chief of Tata Steel’s adventure programmes, was co-ordinating the efforts of hunting for a new base camp site and had written to divisional forest officer of Uttar Kashi for help in this regard.
“We need to find a suitable plot on an urgent basis as our winter outdoor leadership course has started from September 22. As of now, we are making do with accommodating participants at a temporary site. We need to relocate as soon as we can,” said TSAF secretary P.P. Kapadia.
He added that they had assessed the damage at their Rawada base, which is situated along the Gangotri highway about 12 km from Uttar Kashi. The news, he claimed, was not very good.
“We sent our senior instructor Navinder Singh to assess the damages. The base camp in Rawada, he reported after a month-long stay at Uttarkashi, has turned into a riverbed. It cannot be brought back to shape. It is completely damaged,” Kapadia told The Telegraph.
Interestingly, the new camp, as and when it is set up, would be the fourth to be put in place by TSAF in over a decade of its existence. The outdoor leadership source first used to be held at Ganeshpur, before it was shifted to Gangotri. Later, the camp was shifted to Uttaraon, where it remained for a number of years before being moved to Rawada in September last year.
Apart from Rawada,most of TSAF’s earlier camps had been plagued by a number of practical problems. The one in Uttraon — around 25km from Uttarkashi — for instance, became unfeasible after its village committee banned TSAF from setting up toilets in it.
“The village committee was not supporting our plan to set up toilets and a dining hall there. Our team members faced a tough time. So we were forced to search for an alternative plot,” Kapadia said.
The Rawada site, however, was near perfect.
The village committee was very helpful and did not raise any objections while TSAF set up various facilities. “We had even signed a 15-year lease agreement with the Rawada village committee. But then the floods came and now we have to shift base once again,” the TSAF secretary rued.
He added that the foundation had set up a storeroom, a kitchen, toilets and cement platforms for pitching tents at Rawada. Plans were also afoot to construct more facilities, including separate rooms for men and women instructors, a lecture hall and dining room, before the water gushed in.
“We are very disappointed. Besides its picturesque view, Rawada had lot to offer. It was easy to head off to Surya Top at 13,500ft from there. The road to Gangotri too was near making it easy to ferry essential commoditiess to Sangam Chatti. One could not have asked for a better location,” Kapadia said.
The 658 enthusiasts who are camping in the Gangotri region for TSAF’s winter course will take a trip to Surya Top and back. The participants who have signed up for the course this year include employees of Tata Steel, Tata Bluescope, Tata Steel Processing and Distribution Ltd, Tata Chemicals, North Delhi Power Company Ltd and Tata Motors and its units in Pantnagar, Lucknow, Pune, Mumbai and Sanand (Gujarat).
The course is scheduled to wind up on December 18.