Of the 13 companies providing helicopters for the darshan at the shrine of Lord Shiva, 12 have packed up and now only one — Devbhoomi Air Services — is operating from Rudraprayag.
The company is mandated to operate round the air under a contract with the state government. The chopper services will resume in September when the second phase of the annual pilgrimage begins.
These companies, the official told IANS, provided the chopper service for pilgrims from May to July. Of the 2.5 lakh pilgrims who visited the Kedarnath shrine this year, 58,000 used the chopper service.
An official of one of the chopper service company said that the season was good for them but since the onset of rains, visibility was poor and hence the operation of helicopters was not safe forcing them to wind up a little early this year.
The sole company which is operating now, as per contractual obligations, will stay put even during rains for emergencies.