Only mini-buses with less carrying capacity could be used to carry pilgrims to Delhi owing to hair-pin bends on the mountain roads
State Disaster Management Commissioner T. Radha and his team of officials have their own tales of travail as they are engaged in rescue and relief operations for pilgrims from the State stranded during the Char Dham yatra.First of all, they had to scour Dehradun for one full day before they could find a hotel room to stay on Saturday.
The city was battered by heavy downpour, and all its facilities were hit as thousands of pilgrims poured into the Uttarakhand capital.
Officials from almost all States rushed to Dehradun at the behest of their respective governments. This resulted in a scramble for shelter, food, water and transport.
Describing the problems encountered by him and V.K. Ekbote, Additional Commissioner, Disaster Management, Mr. Radha said the transport of pilgrims proved a major hurdle.
Only mini-buses could be used thanks to hair-pin bends on the mountain roads. As the buses were all 12-seaters, only a dozen pilgrims could be sent at a time to Delhi, which is 175 km away.
Another major hurdle was that the vehicles could not move fast owing to the bad condition of roads.
Mr. Radha said the tragedy could have been avoided if the travel agencies had followed weather forecasts.
The south-west monsoon advanced into Uttarakhand with vigour on June 15, and none bothered to pay heed to the heavy rainfall warning issued by the India Meteorological Department.
Weather once again turned rough in Dehradun and other areas on Monday, forcing the authorities to restrict airlift operations.
The India Meteorological Department issued another forecast on Monday, warning that heavy rains were likely on June 25 and 26.