Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has promised all assistance for relief in and reconstruction of the roads, bridges and other installations that were washed away or damaged in last month’s deluge and landslips in Uttarakhand.

This was disclosed over the phone by the Congress MP from Pauri, Satpal Maharaj.

Nearly 2000 roads and about 58 bridges in Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Rudraprayag, Pithoragarh and Bageshwar were washed away. Landslips have cut off over 2000 villages and hamlets and the authorities are finding it difficult to reach rations and essential supplies to over 1000 villages facing starvation.

On the death toll in Kedarnath area, Mr. Maharaj said the number would be more than the official figures as a number of bodies were buried under tonnes of sludge in Kedarnath, Gaurikund, Rambara and nearby areas. “I have asked Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna to send four JCB excavators to the area by helicopters so that the work of removal of debris and recovery of bodies could be expedited,” he said.

Protection wall

In Uttarkashi, the administration started constructing protection walls on a war footing with the help of about 600 civil police, ITBP personnel and students at three sensitive zones to prevent the waters of the Bhagirathi from destroying more buildings. The action was taken after angry residents gheraoed the District Magistrate on Wednesday night and refused to allow him to go back till he ordered construction of the protection walls. It may be mentioned that the authorities had failed to constructing protection walls and other structures along the Bhagirathi, despite getting the funds in March.

“Had these structures been built on time, the damage to Uttarkashi would have been much less,” said residents.

Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition Ajay Bhatt has criticised the government for taking credit of reopening several ravaged roads. “Travelling on these so called restored roads is like moving in a death trap. People are forced to use these dangerous roads as there as they are left with no other choice,” he said.