New Delhi, Mar 8 (IANS): Sujata Chaturvedi, Secretary, Department of Sports under the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, on Tuesday flagged off a unique expedition -- 'FIT @ 50+ Women's Trans-Himalayan Expedition 22' -- wherein a dozen-odd women aged 50 and above would embark on the journey of ultimate human endurance on March 12 from Arunachal Pradesh.
The event conducted by Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF) in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports under the FIT India banner celebrates India's 75th Independence Day and is dedicated to the Central government's 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' initiative.
Chanakya Chaudhary, Chairman, TSAF, and Vice President, Corporate Services, Tata Steel, was also present on the occasion.
"I am happy to represent women on behalf of the government for such a wonderful cause, with a bunch of very brave and courageous women. Another happy occasion is that this five-month-long programme is happening in the midst of the 75th year of our Independence, dedicated to the 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' initiative of the Central government," Chaturvedi told the gathering at the flagging off event.
The expedition is being led by Padma Bhushan Bachendri Pal, the legendary mountaineer and the first Indian woman to scale Mount Everest.
The five-month-long expedition involves traversing the Himalayas from East to West - from Arunachal Pradesh to Ladakh - covering over 4,977 km and crossing 37 mountain passes while travelling from Arunachal Pradesh through Assam, West Bengal, Sikkim, Nepal, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh before concluding at Tiger Hill in Kargil at an altitude of 16,608 feet.
Apart from Bachendri Pal (67), the team includes Chetna Sahoo (54, West Bengal), Savita Dhapwal (52, Chhattisgarh), Gangorti Soneji (62, Gujarat), L. Annapurna (53, Jharkhand), Payo Murmu (53, Jharkhand), Sushma Bissa (55, Rajasthan), Major Krishna Dubey (59, Uttar Pradesh), Bimla Deoskar (55, Maharashtra), Vasumathi Srinivasan (68, Karnataka), Shamala Padmanabhan (64, Karnataka) and Chaula Jagirdar (64, Gujarat).
The support team includes Mohan Rawat (41) and Randev Singh (30), both from Uttarakhand.
The expedition is also collaborating with the Indian Army for assistance all along the route across the Himalayas. The team's journey is also being supported by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).