Health Minister Surinder Singh Negi says doctors and paramedical staff were present at every disaster-hit place, but voluntary organisations say otherwise

Relief materials, essentially of healthcare, are yet to reach the distant disaster-hit villages and hamlets in Uttarakhand, 27 days after the catastrophe.

While relief works are on in all the disaster-hit areas, there are many villages and hamlets yet to be receive food and other essentials by the authorities.

Though Health Minister Surinder Singh Negi said doctors and paramedical staff were present at “every disaster-hit place in the State,” voluntary health organisations working in those areas said the government’s healthcare teams had not reached many places where these organisations had managed to extend help.

On the possibility of outbreak of an epidemic, Mr. Negi said: “Though there are chances of an outbreak of epidemic in the monsoon-ravaged areas, no such news has been received yet.” Bleaching powder and sprays were being used in areas where epidemic outbreak was expected, the Minister said adding that chlorination was being done to save people from stomach infections.

However, members of the Medical Service Centre (MSC), a socio-medical voluntary organisation working in the disaster-hit areas in Chamoli and Rudraprayag districts, said chlorine tablets have not been distributed in many villages yet. MSC joint secretary Ansuman Mitra said, “Waterborne diseases, gastrointestinal infections, jaundice, and worm infections are on the rise in areas in Rudraprayag and Chamoli districts.”

Dr. Mitra pointed out need for clean drinking water. He said it was high-time the authorities either intervened in health-related issues in the disaster-hit areas or worked in collaboration with the voluntary health organisations. Though Chief Medical Officers cooperated with voluntary organisations, the State needed to send healthcare teams to villages that had not received any medical help till now.

A team of experts from the Central Water and Power Research Station (CWPRS), Pune, an organisation under the Ministry of Water Resources, will visit Haridwar to study the Ganga and surrounding areas, and suggest flood control measures for the area. The team will also come up with a model for future constructions in the riverside areas.

Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna on Saturday said on July 21 a team of environment experts would decide the guidelines for reconstruction and rehabilitation in the affected areas. Geologists, environmentalists and other experts would be consulted for reconstruction and rehabilitation works.

Compensation to be given to the families of missing people will include Rs 2 lakh from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund, and funds from respective State governments. The Uttarakhand government will provide Rs. 1.5 lakh.