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Updated: June 23, 2013 23:35 IST

Efforts on to bring back pilgrims: K.C. Joseph

Special Correspondent
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A file photo of K.C. Joseph. Photo: Vipin Chandran
A file photo of K.C. Joseph. Photo: Vipin Chandran

The State government is making all efforts to ensure the security of the stranded pilgrims in Uttarakhand floods, K.C. Joseph, Minister for Non resident Keralites’ Affairs, has said.

Speaking to media persons, Mr Joseph said the government fully empathised with the sentiments expressed by the 18 pilgrims led by Swamy Guruprasad of Sivagiri math who were stranded in Badrinath.

“But we are functioning under great constraints for effective intervention on account of the unprecedented situation created by the magnitude of the tragedy,” Mr Joseph said. As per the information received by the government, 75 pilgrims of Kerala origin were caught in the tragedy.

Out of these, a 40-member team who came from Mumbai had returned. Of the rest, 18 were from Sivagiri math. Two pilgrims from Sivagiri math were reported to have been ill, but they had got help from Army doctors. According to Mr Joseph, the whereabouts of 10 persons are yet to known.

They included four persons from Bhilai, three from Delhi, one from Koothattukulam, and two others whose identity were yet to be known. The Minister said a two-member help desk of the Norka was functioning in Dehradun from June 20 onwards. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, KPCC(I) president Ramesh Chennithala, and Mr. Joseph himself were in constant touch with the Central leadership. Defence Minister A K Antony had made it clear that the Army had mounted the biggest relief operations in Uttarakhand in its history, the Minister said.

While present relief operations were constrained by the total dependence on helicopters, it was expected to get better within the next few days, as the Army had taken up repair of roads on a war footing, he said. “VIP visits at this juncture, when the priority should be the victims, would only hamper the coordinated relief operations, he said, calling the high profile visit by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi a publicity stunt.

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