2,400 from AP still stuck

2,400 from AP still stuck
Highlights

Rescue teams yet to reach pilgrims stranded in hills, valleys State accounted for 27 deaths against the...

  • Rescue teams yet to reach pilgrims stranded in hills, valleys
  • State accounted for 27 deaths against the overall toll of 207
  • Ex-MLA from Adoni seeks govt help in locating 38 people
  • Hyd and Vizag Dts account for highest number of missing

Hyderabad: More than 2,400 pilgrims from the State were still stuck in mountains and inaccessible villages that have been cut off from the mainland in Uttarakhand, according to reports reaching here. But they are not alone. They have been part of the some 49,000 devotees from different parts of the country still left stranded in Uttarakhand that had experienced the worst ever flood fury in 80 years.

Rescue teams that have been airlifted to the area where flash floods had left a trail of destruction were yet to reach out to the families that have clung to life on the forest fringes and narrow stretches of hilly tracts. Many of them have been surviving without water and food for the past three days. Andhra Pradesh accounted for 27 deaths as against the overall toll put at 207.

kedarnath temple

Though the rescue teams and defence personnel have helped rescue more than 35,000 pilgrims who were on 'Char dham Yatra' and got trapped in Uttarakhand, especially between Kedarnath and Gaurikund, the number of people returned to the State safely was not more than 400. Meenakshi Naidu, former MLA of Adoni in Kurnool District, has sought the help of the State government for finding the whereabouts of 38 pilgrims from his area. They have been missing for the past five days.

The relatives failed to contact them as their mobiles were not working. The government has made a request to Sanjay Kumar, special officer of Dehra Dun, and resident commissioner of AP Bhavan in New Delhi for information on the missing pilgrims from Adoni. According to the District Revenue Officer of Krishna, 146 pilgrims from the district were part of the missing lot.

The districts of Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam accounted for the highest number of missing pilgrims with 748 and 661 people respectively yet to be traced. In all, 203 pilgrims from West Godavari and 91 from Srikakulam were missing in Uttarakhand. Kadapa and East Godavari accounted for 89 and 89 missing pilgrims respectively. Thirty-three pilgrims who were found to be stranded in Mittani village of Uttarakhand managed to reach Haridwar on Friday morning with the help Army jawans.

Of 34 pilgrims from West Godavari District, 31 made their own arrangements for return journey while the health condition of three others deteriorated. A woman who suffered a paralytic stroke was airlifted to New Delhi. The Prakasam District Collector reported that 11 pilgrims from the district were among those who had safely returned to the State so far. According to Nalgonda District Collector, 23 pilgrims were held up at Jwala, 30 km away from Gangothri. Pilgrims of Srikakulam were sent to New Delhi by bus and 40 from Rajahmundry made their own arrangements for return journey.

Ministers rush to Uttarakhand

Hyderabad: Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Balram Naik, State Minister for Civil Supplies, D Sridhar Babu and Minister for Labour and Employment, Danam Nagender left for New Delhi on Friday to supervise the operations aimed at the rescue of pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh stranded in Uttarakhand.

Chief Minister, N Kiran Kumar Reddy who reviewed the plight of the pilgrim from the state at Secretariat, asked the three Ministers to shoulder the responsibility of ensuring the safe return of the pilgrims to their respective places. Chief Minister also directed the officials to take all steps to ensure that all pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh stranded in Uttarakhand were provided with help and support for their safe return.

Special trains for victims

Kotla's assurance cheers pilgrims

Venkat Parsa

flood1New Delhi: Union Minister of State for Railways Kotla Surya Prakash Reddy on Friday promised to run special trains to Visakhapatnam and Nellore in Andhra Pradesh, with provision for free breakfast, lunch and dinner to the pilgrims stranded in Uttarakhand and now seeking to return home. Survivors continued to recount their tales of woe at AP Bhavan in the Capital. One batch, which completed visits to Kedarnath and Badrinath, were trapped near Gangotri. They could not move forward or get back to the previous destination as there were landslides on both sides, leaving them stranded on the road for days and nights, living merely in the bus.

Without drinking water and food, their miseries were further multiplied. Women stranded in the buses were the worst-affected. All the pilgrims had to put up with the biting chill. Kotla, who visited AP Bhavan for the second day running on Friday, assured the stranded pilgrims that travel arrangements would be made for them to return to their homes and not merely up to Hyderabad. This gave a sense of confidence to the stranded pilgrims at the Bhavan, as they were worried about their onward journey home.

The minister said the PNR numbers of the tickets purchased while coming to Delhi will be accepted for issuing the return tickets. For other destinations, special bogeys will attached to existing trains. In case of rush, special trains will be run, he assured. For onward journeys to their homes, the District Collectors should come forward to help them reach their homes. Meanwhile, A P Bhavan had provided breakfast for about 270 people on Friday morning and lunch for more than 300 people.

Andhra Pradesh Resident Commissioner Shashank Goel is in touch with the tour and travel operators such as Southern Travels to hire their services and facilities. He is monitoring the situation with the Bhavan officials, who are stationed in Uttarakhand to oversee the relief and rescue operations for the pilgrims. They are also in touch with the Resident Commissioner and officials in Hyderabad in exchanging data and information and in coordinating the movement of Telugus from Uttarakhand to Andhra Pradesh, either via New Delhi or directly from there to AP, depending upon the need of the pilgrims.

Former BJP President M Venkaiah Naidu, who had come to AP Bhavan to meet the stranded pilgrims, praised the Railway Minister, saying that he deserved to be complimented for interacting with the stranded pilgrims and instilling confidence in them that travel arrangements will be made. Since they are in a new place and far away from their homes, it is natural for them to worry, he said.

flood2

Toll to be shockingly high

  • Utarakhand CM says 500 dead; casualties could run into several hundreds
  • Over 50,000 still stranded in flood-ravaged parts of State
  • Around 34,000 people evacuated so far
  • 40 bodies recovered from Haridwar
  • It is worst tragedy of the millennium: State Minister H S Rawat

flood4New Delhi/Dehradun: Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna on Friday said more than 500 people have been killed in the state due to heavy rains. "From Gaurikund to Kedarnath, 556 bodies have been noticed by the army and ITBP personnel either floating or buried in slush," Bahuguna said to a private news channel. "But at present, we are faced with a stupendous work of saving lives," he said. Bahuguna said it would take another 15 days for the evacuation to get completed, adding that the state was not warned about any cloud burst. The government said that the death toll could rise dramatically as flood waters recede and rescue workers reach isolated areas.

Over 50,000 people are still stranded in different inaccessible parts of Uttarakhand hit by flash floods and landslides, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said in New Delhi on Friday. "We have evacuated 34,000 people from various parts of Uttarakhand but 50,000 people are still stranded. Our efforts are continuing to rescue all the stranded people," he said after a review meeting on the situation in Uttarakhand.

Forty bodies of flood victims were recovered from Haridwar on Friday as operations to rescue over 9000 stranded in Kedarnath and Badrinath were stepped up with the deployment of 40 helicopters. As the magnitude of the tragedy continued to unfold, Uttarakhand Principal Secretary Rakesh Sharma said casualty figures can be "shockingly high".

Meanwhile, Congress President Sonia Gandhi directed all party MPs and MLAs to donate their one month salary for relief work in the flood-ravaged Uttarakhand. Gandhi also directed all party MPs from Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha to give Rs 10 lakh each from their MPLAD fund for carrying out relief work there," party's communication department in-charge Ajay Maken told PTI. Congress has currently 203 members in the Lok Sabha and 72 in Rajya Sabha. The party has also set up a PCC control room at Dehradun to accelerate the relief work.

In rain-ravaged Uttarakhand with 40 helicopters pressed into service to evacuate over 9000 people from Kedarnath and Badrinath areas as the state government said the toll in the rain fury could be "shockingly high". The Centre appointed former Union Home Secretary V K Duggal as the nodal officer for relief and rescue operations in rain-ravaged Uttarakhand, saying lack of proper coordination was hampering its mitigation efforts.

The focus of the rescue operation would be the worst-hit Kedarnath area where 250 people are stranded, officials said. The operation would then shift to Badrinath where 9000 people are stuck, they said. Terming it as the "worst tragedy of the millennium", Agriculture Minister Harak Singh Rawat said, "It will take us at least five years to recover from the extensive damages caused to the entire infrastructure network in the Kedarnath area which is the worst affected".

Rawat, who had visited the Kedarnath area, said that he spent five hours there and was shocked to see the extent of the damage caused to the buildings and area adjoining the shrine. "The centre of faith has turned into a burial ground. Bodies are scattered in the area. Only the sanctum sanctorum is intact," he said.

Thousands of people were still said to be stranded in various parts of the state that was hit by cloudburst and floods in the upper reaches that left several hundreds of homes, rest houses and buildings in ruins and thousands of people missing. Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said the casualties could run into several hundreds which would be known only when areas become accessible and water recedes.

Sonia asks Cong MPs, MLAs to donate 1 month salary Congress President Sonia Gandhi has directed all the Congress MPs, MLAs and MLCs to donate one month salary for relief works in Uttarakhand. Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde is visiting Uttarakhand on Saturday. Most areas inaccessible so far have been accessed by rescuers now. The Indo-Tibetan Border Force (ITBF) is confident most evacuations should be completed by Sunday. According to sources, 43 helicopters are engaged in rescue and relief work. The IAF, Government and private helicopters have been pressed into service.

Pvt chopper crashes; pilots safe A private chopper being used to rescue trapped pilgrims in Uttarakhand crashed in Junglejatti, but the pilots are safe and have been rushed to hospital. Responding to the pilots distress calls, an IAF Cheetah helicopter which was flying in the vicinity immediately reached the spot. Private carrier Prabhatam Aviation's chopper reportedly crashed while on en route to Gaurikund on a rescue mission. Both its pilots were rescued.

Check indiscriminate tunnelling: Left New Delhi: Expressing shock at the unprecedented death and devastation caused by rains and floods in Uttarakhand and elsewhere, Left parties sought a probe into the "indiscriminate" damage caused to the hills due to construction of several power projects in the state. CPI(M) and CPI also asked their party units to urgently collect funds and materials

Call for help to flood victims Dehradun: Assuring all help to people in the calamity-hit Uttarakhand, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has appealed to different organisations to come forward to provide succour to flashflood victims in the hill state. "What has happened in Uttarakhand has the proportions of a national tragedy. I appeal to all organisations to offer whatever help they can to the affected people," VHP's international working president Pravin Togadia, told reporters here.

Relief pours in The Jammu and Kashmir government today announced Rs one crore aid to the PM's?Relief Fund for the people of flood hit states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. The government also expresses its sympathy and solidarity with the people of the affected states, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said after a cabinet meeting here chaired by him.

5,000 presumed dead at Kedarnath: ActionAid

New Delhi (IANS): Nearly 5,000 people are still missing in Kedenarth in Uttarakhand following the devastating floods and are presumed dead, ActionAid said on Friday. Debabrat Patra, ActionAid India's regional manager for Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, said the situation in the hill state was "catastrophic". "People's houses and animals have been washed away and many roads have simply disappeared," he said. According to him, nearly 75,000 pilgrims were stranded. "Our partners in the region have reported that nearly 5,000 people are still missing in Kedarnath, presumed dead.

Uttarakhand saw over 60 hours of continuous and heavy rains coupled with few incidents of cloudbursts at various locations since June 14 to 17 that led to floods in the two main rivers: Alaknanda and Bhagirathi. "This is what initially triggered the massive devastation of infrastructure and loss of lives," an ActionAid statement said.

Several states oppose Model Flood Bill

  • Bill authorises removal of dwellings from flood-prone areas
  • States fear loss of Central aid if the Bill not implemented in toto
  • They believe rehabilitation of displaced will be difficult task

New Delhi (PTI): Even as floods play havoc in Uttarakhand, several States have opposed the provisions of a 38-year-old Model Flood Bill aimed at minimising losses to life and property in the natural calamity. The Bill, prepared by the Central Water Commission in 1975, will empower authorities to remove dwellings from flood-prone areas.

States like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have opposed the draft bill, saying rehabilitation of people who will be displaced after the dwellings are removed is a difficult task. "They also fear that the Centre will not pay monetary compensation to them if they fail to implement the law in letter and spirit," said a senior Water Resources Ministry official.

"Today several such low-lying areas have been given for commercial development and the the onus of protecting lives and property in such areas lies with the state governments. They know they cannot seek compensation for damage caused in such areas," he said.

There are some states which have not responded to the model bill. The bill, if implemented, will seek to replace dwellings in low-lying areas by parks and playgrounds as absence of human settlement in those areas would cut down loss of lives and property. The CWC had circulated the model bill to all the states to help the State governments enact the legislation. Except for Manipur and Rajasthan, no State legislature has enacted the 'Model Bill on Flood Plain Zoning'.

SW Monsoon 2013

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