The State government is exploring the possibility of airlifting the evacuated pilgrims of Char Dham yatra from Uttarakhand directly to Hyderabad by special flights.
The AP government could emulate Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, which arranged chartered flights from Dehradun to their respective States to carry pilgrims. The AP government has managed to arrange one helicopter to evacuate the stranded pilgrims in different parts of Uttarakhand.
Civil Supplies Minister D. Sridhar Babu, who is stationed in Dehradun supervising the relief and rescue operations for the AP pilgrims, when contacted by The Hindu, said: “I will talk to the Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy and see if we could arrange special flights to send the pilgrims directly to Hyderabad.” Air India has already announced discounted fares for the pilgrims travelling from Dehradun to New Delhi. It has expressed its willingness to operate special flights to different parts of the country from Dehradun to help the stranded pilgrims.
On the rescue operations, there was little headway as bad weather hampered evacuation of stranded pilgrims. Mr. Sridhar Babu said till Sunday afternoon, helicopters could not fly to Kedarnath and other worst affected areas. Instead, the Defence helicopters airlifted stranded pilgrims from Badrinath to Guptkashi, Uttarkashi and Joshimath.
The Minister said that Uttarakhand administration had informed him that 100 persons including those from Andhra Pradesh were waiting to be evacuated. Special buses are being arranged at all the helipads and airbases to transport State pilgrims to New Delhi.
Information from AP Bhavan said that 250 pilgrims were sent to their respective places by Hyderabad and Vijayawada bound trains on Sunday. Those arriving at New Delhi are being paid Rs. 2,000 as immediate relief to purchase clothes and to meet other incidental expenses. A special train will leave Haridwar on Monday for Hyderabad. Earlier in the day, the Chief Minister spoke to his Uttarakhand counterpart Vijay Bahuguna requesting him to extend all help to the AP pilgrims.