The Uttarakhand Government has pressed into service a dozen helicopters to evacuate the stranded Char Dham yatra pilgrims in various places in the State on Tuesday.
According to sources, it would take at least two days for the Uttarakhand administration to evacuate the pilgrims to safer places. As per the plans, the pilgrims are expected to be airlifted to Dehradun and Haridwar for their onward journey to native places.
At least 5,000 pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh are stuck in various places and are awaiting evacuation to Dehradun. Close to 50,000 pilgrims, who had embarked on Char Dham yatra are stranded on various routes in the wake of heavy rains that lashed the hill state in the last three days, cutting off road and communication network.
The Andhra Pradesh Government is in touch with the Uttarakhand administration to provide food and shelter to the needy pilgrims. A senior official in the Chief Minister’s office told The Hindu on Tuesday that eight out of the 12 helicopters pressed into service had started dropping food and water to the pilgrims. Four more helicopters would be pressed into service as the weather clears up.
When the issue was raised in the Assembly on Tuesday, Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy said “we are continuously monitoring the situation contacting the Uttarakhand officials. They have informed us that over 50,000 pilgrims who had embarked on Char Dham yatra are stranded at various places. Due to heavy rains and landslips, the helicopters are unable to carry out sorties. Roads for a length of over 80 kms have been badly damaged, making it difficult to carry out rescue operations,” he said.
The AP Government has deputed a team from Delhi to Dehradun to assist them. A team of doctors would be positioned in Dehradun to take care of the needy patients from the State.
Andhra Pradesh officials have instructed the AP Bhavan staff in Delhi to arrange sufficient number of private buses to transport the pilgrims back to Delhi. The Indian Railways has been requested to operate a special train from Dehradun either to New Delhi or to Hyderabad for the facility of the pilgrims.