Rescue efforts picked up steam in flood-hit Uttarakhand, with 82,000 people having been evacuated by road and air till Saturday. However, 22,000 are still stranded in Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Uttarkashi districts.

According to the Uttarakhand Disaster Mitigation Centre, the Army, Air Force and private helicopters made 150 sorties on Saturday. The copters had rescued 8,831 people till Saturday.

Of the 35 helicopters engaged, 15 belong are private and 20 from the Air Force.

Union Home Secretary R.K. Singh said more helicopters would be provided if need arose.

Anand Sharma, Director, Meteorological Centre, Dehradun, said: “A cyclonic circulation in the Bay of Bengal has induced a low pressure area. Moisture-carrying wind is flowing into many areas in Uttarakhand.”

The weather would be cloudy from June 23 to 25. Lightning and showers would occur at many places in the State from June 25 to 27, Mr. Sharma said.

The Indo-Tibetan Border Police fears the bad weather could affect rescue operations. Nineteen bodies, which were carried in the Ganga from the disaster-ravaged areas, were recovered in Haridwar.

All roads except Rudraprayag-Gaurikund, Joshimath-Badrinath, and Uttarkashi-Gangotri were opened by Saturday evening.

Official reports said all stranded pilgrims were being provided with food, water and medicines. They would be provided free transport to their destinations. They were allowed free access to guesthouses of the State government.

The Railway Ministry has arranged special trains for the stranded from Haridwar to Lucknow, Ambala, and Delhi, and plans to run more specials.

Bhaskar Joshi, Secretary, Uttarakhand Disaster Mitigation Centre, quoting official data, said the evacuation operation at Kedarnath in Rudraprayag district got over by Saturday evening.

Uttarakhand Chief Secretary Subhash Kumar said people in Gangotri in Uttarkashi district and at Ghangaria in Chamoli district had been evacuated.

While 3,000 were rescued from Guptkashi on Saturday, 5,000 still remain stranded in Badrinath.

“Right now our major concern is to evacuate the larger places, small areas will be figured out later,” Mr. Kumar said.

Lieutenant General N.S. Baba said that around 1,000 people were stranded between Rudraprayag and Gaurikund. Union Housing Minister Girija Vyas assured displaced people jobs under the Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana.


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