Andhra hires helicopter to rescue its pilgrims in Uttarakhand

Hyderabad, June 23 (IANS) Andhra Pradesh government has arranged a helicopter for airlifting the stranded pilgrims of the state from flood-hit Uttarakhand.

As many as 25 pilgrims from the state are reported dead as per the information reaching their families but the officials have not yet confirmed this.

Out of about 2,800 pilgrims from the state who had gone to Uttarakhand, 1,100 have reached AP Bhavan in New Delhi during the last two days and over 600 of them have returned home. The remaining are still stranded in the flood-affected areas.

Chief Minister K. Kiran Kumar Reddy Sunday reviewed the relief and rescue measures and the steps being taken to bring back the stranded pilgrims.

Civil Supplies Minister D.Sridhar Babu is camping at Dehradun and monitoring the relief and rescue operations.

A team of 12 doctors will be positioned in Dehradun and Haridwar from Monday while another team of 10 doctors is stationed at AP Bhavan in New Delhi from Sunday. This is in addition to the four teams earlier sent to Dehradun and Haridwar to extend assistance to the pilgrims, said a statement from the chief minister's office Sunday night.

A special train will run from Haridwar to Andhra Pradesh on Monday.

In addition to the provision of accommodation, quality food and medical assistance at free-of-cost to the returning pilgrims, it has been decided to give a sum of Rs.2,000 towards immediate relief for purchase of clothing and to meet other incidental expenses to those who are in need of assistance.

Round-the-clock control rooms are working at secretariat, Hyderabad, at all district headquarters, AP Bhavan, New Delhi and Dehradun and Haridwar.

The state government has also deputed two Indian Administrative Service officers to monitor rescue operations.

Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president N. Chandrababu Naidu Sunday staged a sit-in at AP Bhavan in New Delhi to protest the state government's failure to provide relief to the pilgrims.

The former chief minister, who returned from the US Sunday, said the government did not even provide food and medical assistance to the pilgrims reaching the national capital.

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