NDMA on Uttarakhand: Over 100 pilgrims still stuck in Badrinath, premature to call-off Air Force operations
Edited by Prasad Sanyal (with inputs from IANS)   |   7/3/2013 1:10:52 PM

The National Disaster Management Authority or the NDMA has told NDTV that over 100 pilgrims are still stuck at Badrinath. "To say all yatris are evacuated would be incorrect. The villagers near Manna also need to come down. It was premature to call-off the Indian Air Force operations," NDMA's Joint Advisor, Vinay Kajla  told NDTV.

The massive 15-day effort by the Indian Air Force (IAF) to evacuate stranded people in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand concluded on Tuesday. Officially, over 3,500 are still missing, but NGOs working in the region  fear the figure could well be 10,000.

Indian Air Force officials say eight  helicopters would continue to be stationed in Uttarakhand. They said that the second phase of Operation Rahat will focus on relief and rehabilitation. Under first phase of Operation Rahat, IAF conducted 2,240 sorties from June 18, evacuating 19,100 people and dropping 353,580 kg of relief material.

State government officials said around 1.1 lakh people stranded by flashfloods and landslides were evacuated by personnel of the army, IAF, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF). Officials said authorities now faced a challenging task of cremating badly decomposed bodies in Kedarnath area. The situation was compounded by a variety of factors, including bad weather.

The NMDA has put the number of villages affected by the tragedy -- one of the worst to hit India in recent times -- at over 2,000. Incessant rains in Uttarakhand for over three days from June 14 triggered flashfloods and landslides, leading to hundreds of deaths. NDMA vice-chahirman Shashidhar Reddy admitted that supply of food to the affected villages -- many of which have been washed away -- posed a challenge as vast stretches of roads and bridges were not accessible. On Tuesday, 100 tonnes of rice were given to the Badrinath administration for distribution among the needy.

On Tuesday, Mr Reddy said choppers were being used to send supplies and eight teams of the NDRF were camping in the affected areas. He said 1,025 people injured in the nature's fury were being treated in hospitals. Of the 3,727 villages, 2,283 villages have been restored their power connectivity.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development has sent a two-member team to flood-hit Uttarakhand to asses the impact of the tragedy on children. The team comprises National Commission for Protection of Child Rights chairperson Kushal Singh and joint secretary in the ministry Vivek Joshi.

The health ministry has sent 1,600 body bags to Uttarakhand as part of relief efforts. While 1,100 body bags have been provided by the Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS), the health ministry has procured 500 bags. A three-member team of the ministry is stationed in Dehradun to coordinate with state health authorities to provide assistance.

India has sought financial and technical assistance from the multilateral development agencies, especially the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), to help rebuild infrastructure in Uttarakhand.


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