115 AP pilgrims missing and 400 still stranded
Officials from different States in Dehradun including those from Andhra Pradesh are facing an unexpected problem —the restiveness among locals aggrieved over the nation’s attention being focussed on tourists and pilgrims at the cost of the locals in Uttarkhand who have lost everything.
There is an uneasy calm in Badrinath area where full-scale rescue and relief work is on, with locals keeping aloof, said an AP official. He said more than 500 mules and their owners had been washed away on the treacherous mountain road connecting Gaurikund and Rambada en route to Kedarnath.
The 20-member strong AP team, headed by senior IAS officer Adityanath Das, and Disaster Management Commissioner T. Radha, is planning to conclude the operation in two to there days as the number of pilgrims stranded in Gangotri, Yamunotri and Badrinath sectors is only 400. Mr. Das said a special flight was being operated from Dehradun to Hyderabad every day, carrying 130 pilgrims. Meanwhile, a large number of people from AP have reached Dehradun in search of their missing relatives.
He said problems were being encountered by government-hired choppers as they could carry only three passengers. These pilots are not accustomed to flying at high altitudes, slowing down the process of ferrying stranded pilgrims to safety, he said.
Moreover, the recent helicopter disaster made pilots extra cautious, so much so that a six-member doctors’ team had to be flown in two batches from Dehradun to Badrinath on Friday. Meanwhile, the number of untraced AP pilgrims has come down to 115 after more pilgrims contacted the helplines.
Kiran review situation
Of them, Hyderabad district accounted for 38, Ranga Reddy 35, Krishna 14, Chittoor 5, Guntur, Kadapa four each, West Godavari, Anantapur three each and Nizamabad two.
Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy reviewed the situation here with Chief Secretary P. K. Mohanty and other senior officials. He noted that as many as 700 distress calls had been attended to and the pilgrims in distress brought to Hyderabad. All those stranded in Harsil, Gangotri and Dharasu areas have been rescued, a release said.