Monday, August 6, 2012

31 killed in Uttarakhand flash floods

DEHRA DUN, August 6, 2012

Thirty one people were killed in the flash floods in Uttarakhand on Saturday and at least six missing from Gangori, which bore the brunt of nature's fury.

Heart-wrenching scenes were witnessed at Gangori, where the maximum number of deaths were reported, with relatives and villagers crying for help.

Efforts were on to move about 700 Char Dham pilgrims stranded at various places to safer spots on foot, as the roads were completely damaged and the hostile weather was not allowing airlifting of the people.

The State government released Rs. 20 crore from the disaster mitigation fund for immediate relief work and urged civil society organisations to rush help to the victims.

The weather department has sounded an alert for heavy rains and flash floods for the next 24 hours.

Aerial survey

Returning after an aerial survey with Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Agriculture Harish Rawat, Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna issued instructions to immediately restore power supply, drinking water and road connectivity in Uttarkashi and surrounding areas.

"Adequate food supplies are available and the officials have been ordered to provide 'pocket money' of Rs. 2,700 per family besides cooked food and dry rations. Doctors have been asked to provide medical aid to the victims," Mr. Bahuguna told The Hindu.

Earlier, presiding over a high level disaster management and mitigation meeting, he ordered the officials to immediately restore the road link between Bhatwari and Uttarkashi, erect makeshift bridges wherever required, restore power and telephone lines.

Ex gratia announced

Mr. Bahuguna announced an ex gratia of Rs. 3 lakh to the next of kin of those killed, Rs.1 lakh each to the owners of nearly 200 houses damaged completely and Rs.1 lakh each to the over 50 shopkeepers who lost everything in the flood fury. ITBP jawans were trying to provide relief to the residents of the worst-hit Mathali village.

Schools and educational institutions in Uttarkashi and Chamoli have been closed for a week.

Disaster Management Minister Yashpal Arya, who visited the area, could not proceed beyond Chinyalisaud as the roads were either completely damaged or washed away.

Meanwhile, Shanti Kunj Haridwar dispatched a 35-member team including an ambulance, doctors and specially trained volunteers to Uttarkashi on Sunday. The team is carrying over 50 quintals of food grains, medicines, clothes, utensils kit, tea, sugar, clothes, kerosene, a portable generator and water.

The team will create a base camp at Uttarkashi, conduct a quick survey with the help of local Gayatri Parivar members and distribute the material, Gauri Shankar Sharma, manager Shanti Kunj said.

The relief and rescue operations are being supervised by Shail Didi and Pranab Pandya, international heads of Gayatri Parivar.
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