Panic-stricken pilgrims from Karnataka, stranded across the four flood-affected districts in Uttarakhand, have been frantically making calls to be rescued. Some of them are expected to be airlifted to Pata on Friday.
Nearly four days after they were stranded in Uttarakashi, Chamoli, Tehri and Rudraprayag, several pilgrims have got in touch with the three-member rescue monitoring team from Karnataka. So far, the team has identified more than 300 pilgrims from the State who are stranded.
At least 150 pilgrims of the over 4,000 stranded in Gowrikund are believed to be from the State and the team is in touch with them.
The State government on Thursday evening, in its update, estimated that of the total 67,000 pilgrims stranded in Uttarakhand, about 1,200 are from the State. While 760 are stranded in Kedarnath, 340 are in Badrinath and the rest are in other areas. .
“Pilgrims suffering from diabetes, hyper tension and diarrhoea have appealed for immediate evacuation. They are likely to be evacuated tomorrow,” the Deputy Director of Mines and Geology Karigowda, part of the monitoring team, told The Hindu. He, however, did not reveal the number of those pilgrims in need of urgent care.
“Several pilgrims also called to inform about the shortage of medicines and food, which we have arranged through the district administration,” he said.
Apart from such calls, the team has been receiving anxious calls from family members, who have not been contacted by their kin, who were on the Char Dham Yatra.
For many families though, Thursday brought some good news.
At least 36 members, who were part of a group trip organised by Konark Travels, and several others from various places across Karnataka including Bangalore and Hubli, also contacted the team.
Besides, a huge convoy of more than 900 buses is bringing pilgrims from Guptakashi to Rishikesh on Friday. “We are expecting more pilgrims from our State in this convoy,” he added.
According to Deputy Inspector General of Police (Internal Security) Hemanth Nimbalkar said 66 persons have been identified and sent back from Haridwar and nearby areas.
He said another 140 are still stuck in Badrinath and efforts are being made to rescue them.
Meanwhile, the State government has made arrangements for free food, accommodation and transport to stranded pilgrims, who are being rescued. While an entire hotel opposite the rescue operation centre in Rishikesh has been booked, 20 buses have been booked to transport pilgrims back to Delhi.
The government, which released Rs. 50 lakh to arrange for immediate facilities, will also provide free transport back to Bangalore for those in need.
In Delhi, free shelters have been established at the Karnataka Bhavan, Raghavendra Math, Shankar Math and Pejawar Math where temporary accommodation will be provided to pilgrims before being sent to Karnataka by train.
Mr. Nimalkar can be reached at 9448110100/9886231479