The number of deaths in the Uttarakhand tragedy should not be a matter of discussion at this juncture, although it appears that the toll is heavy (“Death toll 10,000, says Uttarakhand Speaker,” June 30). While over one lakh pilgrims have been rescued from the State, the locals are still waiting for help. Leaders who competed with one another to rescue the people of their States should help in rebuilding Uttarakhand and demonstrate that they are Indians first.

Kshirasagara Balaji Rao,

Hyderabad

The squabble over the number of dead in the Himalayan tragedy not only amounts to disrespect for the dead and their families, but also points to callous insensitivity.

In a country that lacks a coordinated system to count even the number of casualties during a disaster, all talk of putting in place workable ‘disaster management’ agencies sounds farcical.

Balvinder Singh,

Chandigarh

Rescued pilgrims can live normal lives hereafter. The worst sufferers are the people of the State. Uttarakashi was devastated by an earthquake 22 years ago. But we learnt nothing. One hopes at least now, policymakers will think of what is best for the Himalayan State. If the usual chalta hai attitude is allowed to continue, many more tragedies may take place.

As a first step, let us help rebuild the affected villages by donating generously to relief funds.

Ahamad Fuad,

Kochi

The unprecedented tragedy has exposed many things — one, the government lacks the equipment and skill to respond swiftly when faced with a war-like situation, and save lives in a quick and organised manner. Two, our armed forces, although ready to help, are heavily handicapped in the absence of superior aircraft and all-terrain vehicles, high-tech communication posts, heavy machinery lifting equipment, and quick action teams capable of delivering relief and constructing makeshift bridges, shelters and airports. Last, Indian billionaires do not care for their fellow countrymen and are last in the line when it comes to helping.

Shivaji K. Moitra,

Kharagpur

The floods in Uttarakhand have placed a huge responsibility of rebuilding the State on the Centre. On a positive note, the scenes of the locals and army personnel rescuing the stranded and giving the dead a decent funeral were heart-rending. Their tireless and selfless acts are inspiring. At the same time, many people, including children, have been rendered homeless. They need to be rehabilitated and their lives brought back to normalcy soon.

More important, it is time to learn from the natural disaster and take every possible step to protect the environment in the Himalayas.

P. Senthil Saravana Durai,

Tuticorin

The 2004 tsunami, a series of earthquakes and the recent floods remind us that we are puppets in the hands of nature. Like a mother who reprimands her children when they cross their limits, nature also reprimands us from time to time for exploiting it. It is time we acted to preserve our pristine environment.

V. Sangeetha,

Delhi

The government should have aerodromes in areas popularly visited by tourists and pilgrims. It is also time to think of running commercial flights in hilly regions. Rescue activities can be more swift if military helicopters are aided by commercial choppers.

Varun Dambal,

Bangalore

An article in Reader’s Digest (June 1982) stated that nearly 600 million tonnes of earth were being eroded in the Himalayas every year. People were advised to plant fast growing trees but they paid no heed. We should start afforestation to save our future generations.

M.M. Kale,

Kakinada

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