Amid reports of local shopkeepers and traders fleecing hapless pilgrims and tourists stranded in flood-hit Uttarakhand by charging exorbitant rates for water bottles and food items, a city businessman, who was rescued by the Indian Army was all praise for people of Badrinath for providing free food and accommodation.
Muthyalu Badrinath, resident of Tukkuguda on the outskirts along with four women members of his family was on a pilgrimage to Rishikesh, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath, when the heavy rains and landslides lashed the hilly State.
“We had visited Rishikesh, Gangotri, Kedarnath and reached Badrinath on June 15, when it started raining. By next day, the situation turned worse with torrential rains cutting off most part of the State.
“We survived for a week as local people provided us food and the hotel where we were staying did not charge a single rupee,” Mr. Badrinath, who was among the 10 pilgrims from the State evacuated on Sunday told The Hindu from Dehradun airport.
Mr. Badrinath and nine others were presently stationed at Dehradun airport at Jolly Grant where the Civil Supplies Minister D.Sridhar Babu, Union Minister P.Balaram Naik, Special officer Sanjay Kumar and Disaster Management Commissioner T. Radha met them.
He said they were first airlifted from Badrinath to Joshimath and then to Rishikesh. The city businessman said but for the efforts of Indian Army personnel, hundreds of pilgrims would not have returned home.
“Hats off to the Army personnel, who went all out to ensure that not even a single pilgrim suffered and evacuated them to safer places.”
According to him, at least two bus loads of pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka were still stuck in Badrinath.