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Updated: June 23, 2013 22:56 IST

Uttarakhand floods: Over 10,000 rescued amidst misery and devastation

C.K. Chandramohan
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An IAF chopper lands for rescue operations at Gauri Kund in Uttarakhand, on Saturday.
An IAF chopper lands for rescue operations at Gauri Kund in Uttarakhand, on Saturday.

Misery and uncertainty continued to plague thousands of villagers rendered homeless in the interior areas of Uttarkashi, Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Pithoragarh even as teams of the Army, ITBP, NDRF and State police rescued over 10,000 pilgrims on Sunday. The remaining 7,000 odd pilgrims would be rescued soon, authorities hope.

The rescue operations were hampered by mild showers in places like Dehradun and Joshimath. The Met office has predicted more rains on Monday and Tuesday.

The Director General of Police has ordered all local police chiefs to escort pilgrims trekking their way out to avoid mishaps. Special security would be provided to women, he said.

Many pilgrims and residents wondered why the government had not made proper arrangements for the Char Dham Yatra even after 12 years of formation of Uttarakhand. Disasters due to cloudbursts, flash floods and landslides have been common but the authorities seemed content with small temporary measures after each disaster, said Renu D. Singh of the Samadhan Women Helpline.

Sarita and Neetu, both social activists, wondered why neither the Bharatiya Janata Party nor the Congress allowed the Vidhan Sabha sessions to function. “Important Bills and even the Budget are passed without discussions. Does the electorate elect the MLAs for this,” they asked.

Jagdish Chandra Jakhmola, a retired teacher, wanted the MLAs not to disturb Vidhan Sabha proceedings and seriously debate how disasters could be mitigated in Uttarakhand. The Centre should also make efforts by forming a group of well meaning experts to suggest measures to minimise losses caused by natural calamities and also pitch in with liberal funds for repairing or reinforcing infrastructure, he said.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna, after consulting with religious leaders such as Shankaracharya Swaroopanand Saraswati, ordered the officials to immediately send a team to Kedarnath to clear the area of debris and cremate the dead bodies lying there with traditional rituals after postmortem and collection of DNA samples. A ‘mahayagya’ will be held in Haridwar on the 13th day of the tragedy for the peace of the departed souls, Mr. Bahuguna said.

Mr. Bahuguna also said the rehabilitation of Kedarnath shrine was a top priority of the gand it will be carried out after taking suggestions from the Archaeological Survey of India.

Mr. Bahuguna said that the welfare of the disaster-hit villagers was equally important and necessary rations and medical care was being rushed there. “The damaged roads and bridges were making access to the remote areas difficult,” he said.

Second survey

Mr. Bahuguna ordered the rescue teams to make a second survey of areas from where pilgrims had been rescued to make sure no one was left out. The Chief Minister wanted the officials to keep a backup rescue plan ready in view of forecasts of more rains in the coming days.

Union Minister Harish Rawat, who trekked about 18 km from Rudraprayag to Augustmuni on Sunday morning, told The Hindu over phone that devastation in the villages was extensive and it would take a lot of time to bring things back to normal. Mr. Rawat who visited Gauchar also said the ITBP was doing an excellent job in the village-to-village search for survivors in the Kedarnath-Lambagarh area. A large number of houses, hotels, vehicles and agriculture fields have been washed away, Mr. Rawat said.

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, along with senior Congress leaders Moti Lal Vora and Ambika Soni, reviewed the relief centres set up in Rishikesh and Dehradun.

Mr. Hooda said that 50,000 blankets would be sent for people stranded at various place in Uttarakhand and, out of these, 25,000 blankets had already been dispatched from Panipat on Sunday. He said that buses of Haryana Roadways had been deployed to carry rescued persons from Dehradun, Rishikesh and Haridwar to their destinations free of cost.

The Baluakot and Jualjiwi villages in district Pithoragarh were some of the worst-affected with some of the villagers trekking through hazardous areas to the district headquarters and taking shelter in the homes of relatives or friends. Pramod Tamta who reached the district headquarters said that nearly half of the houses, shops and agricultural fields in Baluakot and Jualjiwi had been washed away.

Heart-rending scenes could be witnessed at the Sahasradhara helipad and Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun where hundreds of relatives could be seen frantically showing photographs of their kin to the rescued pilgrims, asking them if they had seen their loved ones.

It is very shocking incident which took place in Uttrakhand in which
more than 5000 people have lost their lives. My condolences are with
the families who lost their family members and friends.

from:  Sohrab Alam
Posted on: Jun 23, 2013 at 20:46 IST

The Hindu mention of ‘party politics’ in the management of flood relief operations, though seemingly harmless at the first reading, points to a very dangerous situation prevailing in the country. Only the other day, the Supreme Court warned the Central and Uttarakhand governments that the relief must be provided without any discrimination. The Court observation is not specific to the ‘BJP Relief camp’, referred to in the Hindu report, but takes into account all areas of our administration characterised by ‘discrimination’ of citizens on various counts. That the Supreme Court had to intervene to direct the governments to provide the flood affected people with food, water , medicine etc. indicates the lack of foresight, preparedness, efficiency and dependability on the part of our administrative machinery, in addition to discriminatory factors like politics and region in this time of adversity.

from:  P.R.V.Raja
Posted on: Jun 23, 2013 at 14:44 IST

The efforts of the jawans and other military personal needs to be lauded, they have been the souls of this rescue operation.

from:  Nitya
Posted on: Jun 23, 2013 at 13:13 IST

Prayers for all survivors. Hope the weather remains calm so that they
get rescued soon. May God give strength to our soldiers helping the sick
and wounded...

from:  Pushkar Pund
Posted on: Jun 23, 2013 at 13:10 IST

Thank to our brave army mens, airforce and all other who contributed in saving these people. They came in the face of god to them, to save their lives..

from:  Kiranpal Singh
Posted on: Jun 23, 2013 at 12:27 IST

Governments are wasting more money/time on so called Terrorism than on Essentials.
There are no proper street lights in Puducherry , no proper bus shelters and the pavements are unwalkable. And what does the government do ? They are busy fixing Cameras everywhere !!!

from:  mort
Posted on: Jun 23, 2013 at 12:27 IST

I convey my deep condolences to the victims and the parents of the dead all over the world. My heart felt very disheartened after listening the updates from the state...

from:  Faheem
Posted on: Jun 23, 2013 at 10:53 IST

I was talking to a friend, a corporate executive in an MNC
who had visited China. While our talk diverted to the calamity in
Uttarakhand, he explained about the upkeep of the China’s
jurisdiction, the other side of the Himalayan valley. The tourist
taken to a valley could not smoke a cigarette at the top of a hill!
Civil constructions are strictly under separate cell and hardly any
big buildings or shanty sheds as seen in our pilgrim centers and hill
stations. Trees and plant families are well protected. This contrast
shows the way China had given to shield nature from pollution and
contagion to soil and the exclusive virgin topography despite
commercial exploitation are there for water reservoirs and hydro-power
plants etc. with enough precautions to shun ecological disasters. Can
India learn from China???

from:  Madan Menon Thottasseri
Posted on: Jun 23, 2013 at 10:13 IST

The current disaster experienced may be just a taster by the furious
nature when our people, government and mafia prosper by exploiting it
without any concern for the future generation. The number of tourists
visiting Uttarakhand is almost triple the total population of the
state; around 2.50 crore to 3.00 crore visit in a year while the
state’s population is just one crore

Land mafia woos villagers to grab land to be sold for commercial
construction of hotels and lodges. There will be subversion of rules,
flouting of statutory compliance while cement construction with
pillars, digging just close to watersheds or hills pose perils while
at the construction stage itself. Everybody think that Himalaya has
very strong base ignoring the fact that it is fragile where
construction of tunnels and deep foundations can cause wavering of
earth equivalent to 4.0 scale tremor. All sludge dumped into rivers
after diggings out tunnels were flown out with flood water!

from:  Madan Menon Thottasseri
Posted on: Jun 23, 2013 at 10:10 IST

It is very sad and disturbing. My prayers for those who perished and for the missing desperately trying to reunite with their families. Disaster Management is 90% preparation and 10% execution. The Uttarakhand floods disaster is the result of hasty reaction after the calamity, rather than proactive planning. Let's hope that all the states and center learn from this and strive to implement a much better program to manage catastrophes in the future.

from:  S. Raji
Posted on: Jun 23, 2013 at 09:10 IST

Have you heard of Nuremberg trials? Held for the purpose of bringing Nazi war criminals to justice. In the same way a National Tribunal called "Uttarakhand Himalayan Mayhem Tribunal 2013" must be established immediately with both national & International jurists/Environmentalists/Engineers/ Geographists/ Weathermen/ Administrators so as to fix the responsibility by interviewing all the players in this holocaust including Politicians, Bureaucrats, Industrialists & Middlemen irrespective of the political party they belong to and a trial conducted & concluded before next general elections. This crime i.e. senseless & unsustainable development in Highly Eco sensitive territory for the senseless objective of wealth/job generation committed by these people is against the people of Uttarakhand and piligrams from all over the country. No numbers of casualty has come out. It could be nothing less than 20,000 dying directly in the flash floods and in addition thieving the livelihood and uprooting of several thousand families including maiming of piligrams. This is a BIG enough National Tragedy and crimes against people must be broughtto justice by not just handing over punishment to them but also on TV Trials so that no politician/Bureaucrat/Industrialists w

from:  BG Subhash
Posted on: Jun 23, 2013 at 09:03 IST

What is shameful is the attitude of the local traders and businesses who have been fleecing the stranded tourists with heavy black marketing. How can we allow such shameful elements to get away with such crass profiteering and lack of human compassion?

from:  S.N.Iyer
Posted on: Jun 23, 2013 at 08:55 IST

The scales of devastation are huge but the relief effort is half-hearted. The rulers at Delhi are behaving as though it is not their concern.

from:  Appan
Posted on: Jun 23, 2013 at 08:49 IST

It would appear that the entire focus of rescue had been on people who
were visiting these places from other states. Uttarkhand authorities
are not being permitted to focus on the residents/ villagers of the
state, who also must be suffering.

I really wish that everyone stops making so much noise about the
insufficiency of the response and let the authorities do their work.

Look at the ITBP, Army and Air Force go about doing their jobs, so
effectively. I think that this is because their leaders are not being
unnecessarily scrutinised by the shrill and ofter misleading TV media.

from:  Sundar
Posted on: Jun 23, 2013 at 08:33 IST

Indian air force are like avengers.hats off.

from:  Hari Prasadh
Posted on: Jun 23, 2013 at 08:30 IST

There are no 'right steps' in such a matter. But the least govt could
do was rescue them! Many are still not even rescued. But of course you
have better things like politics to do in the mean time.

Some sort of counselling is required at the rescue camps. From what I
have seen [through media of course] is that people stranded are like a
queue for tatkal tickets. They dont know whether they will get the
tickets at all. They are themselves creating an ordered queue though
with problems among them and maintaining order. Now how are people
'expected' to behave normal when they have seen death in front of
their eyes.
What about the basic medical facilities. What about the drinking
water, food etc. I am sure these things provided by the locals will
outnumber that of these by the govt.
We are going to see a bigger fail, thats managing the aftermath.
Locals will be 'expected' to get back to normal life. Diseases will be
lightly took. If we see even 5% of what Japan did we would be lucky!

from:  Ramachandra
Posted on: Jun 23, 2013 at 08:07 IST

Well Narendra Modi did go on an aerial survey and you associated "UGLY
head of POLITICS" but you forgot to mention home minister, Rajasthan CM
also did the same aerial survey.

Also, the offer of 24 Helicopters by Guj CM was rejected by HM.
Also, out of 16 private choppers 11 were ferrying politicians!

from:  Siddharth
Posted on: Jun 23, 2013 at 07:40 IST

When people at the helm of affairs keep themselves busy 24x7 in making money by foul
means, where is the time for them to think of disaster management or read about the
efficient disaster management measures with discipline and humanitarian touch all around,
put in place swiftly in countries like Japan and the US? Oh, God! Please don't punish the
honest, poor and inncocent people, in your fury against the wrong doers in powerful positions

from:  Shekar
Posted on: Jun 23, 2013 at 07:36 IST

Every Indian student of information technology knows what is DR? Incident after incident, no lessons learned but God knows what is Disaster management is doing in India since 1947? Still people are waiting to know the shocking figures of deaths in Uttarakhand floods.

from:  Kumar Pandruvada
Posted on: Jun 23, 2013 at 07:21 IST

Politics or no politics...anyone/party coming forward to help should be thanked and
applauded...need of the hour is help in any form, shape and size....

from:  Akhilesh Mohan
Posted on: Jun 23, 2013 at 07:16 IST

It had seen time and again that the RSS is the only organization which
gets involved in rescue and relief operations. I had observed this
during the "Morvi" dam disaster in 1979. It is really surprising that no
other organization takes any such works, though they all talk tall !

from:  Viswanath
Posted on: Jun 23, 2013 at 05:36 IST

These are the heights of ridiculousness.

from:  Mudasir
Posted on: Jun 23, 2013 at 02:50 IST

I feel the Uttarakhund tragedy is the worst in living memory. Our Armed
forces are heroes of the nation. I salute them from the bottom of my

from:  syed Muniruddin
Posted on: Jun 23, 2013 at 00:12 IST

Defence Forces
The real heroes

from:  Pranav
Posted on: Jun 23, 2013 at 00:00 IST

Our army and airforce have got some well advanced flying machines.. Very proud.

from:  Vignesh VR
Posted on: Jun 22, 2013 at 22:22 IST

Its not the politicians or the VIPS its our armed forces who save us

Respect To our Jawans and Officers of the three Services

from:  arun
Posted on: Jun 22, 2013 at 21:18 IST
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