Even as the rescue operation in the flood-hit areas of Uttarakhand nears completion with several thousand stranded pilgrims having been rescued and reunited with their families, the Uttarakhand Disaster Control Centre at the Uttarakhand Niwas here is now inundated with “thanks” calls and queries on donations.
“Over the past two days, there is a sudden fall in the number of calls regarding stranded pilgrims and now the callers are mostly making queries about where to make donations for the flood victims. While some of the callers want to donate money, others want to donate blankets, clothes and food items. We are providing the account numbers of the Chief Minister Relief Fund for the cash donations, but have directions from the government not to collect clothes and food items as there is little space to store them. For the next 48 hours our priority is to rescue the stranded pilgrims and nothing else,” said Senior Assistant Information Officer Chetan Pandey, who is manning the control centre.
Also, there are those who are calling the control room expressing their gratitude to the staff for helping them locate their loved ones. “A woman from Meerut had called me four days ago and provided me with the details of five of her family members stranded in Uttarakhand. We passed on the information to the disaster control room in Uttarakhand. Today, I got a call from her expressing gratitude as her family members returned home safely. I have received at least a dozen such calls. It feels really good when people call you to say thanks. It is the real reward for all the hard work we have been putting over the past few days,” said Mr. Pandey, adding that it was an urge to help people in distress that kept him moving more than anything else.
The control room is also acting as a bridge between the various States and the Uttarakhand Government on providing information about the stranded and missing pilgrims. The Uttarakhand Niwas control centre procures information on the stranded pilgrims from the Resident Commissioners of various States in Delhi and passes it on to the disaster control room in Uttarakhand. “We have also been receiving pictures and other details of the stranded and missing pilgrims through e-mail and have been passing them on,” said Mr. Pandey. Similarly, another helpline of the Delhi Government is receiving information on the stranded and missing pilgrims and passing it on further.
“We procure such information from the callers such as the name of the missing relative, the last call made by them and the place from where the call was made. The information is compiled and sent to disaster control room in Uttarakhand for the information of the rescue teams. It is a disaster management helpline of the Delhi Government, but we are taking calls on the Uttarakhand flood for the past three days,” said Anil Kumar, who is supervising the helpline. He, however, could not disclose the number of such calls received.