Chavan stranded in Delhi, weather hinders Uttarakhand trip

Mumbai/New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan Sunday attempted to visit Dehradun to supervise relief operations for the people from the state suffering in the Uttarakhand floods but had to cancel his trip due to bad weather.

"My aircraft was in the air for around 45 minutes, but owing to the inclement weather conditions, we were advised to return to New Delhi. I plan to go there tomorrow (Monday)," Chavan told media persons in the national capital Sunday evening.

Chavan, who has been camping in Delhi for two days, said that two state government helicopters have been placed at the disposal of the Uttarakhand government to help in the rescue and relief operations.

He said that though the Uttarakhand government would utilize the choppers, they would prioritise the airlifting of people from Maharashtra stranded in various locations of the floods-ravaged regions of the hill state.

Presently, a 30-strong contingent of senior officials from the state is camping in Dehradun and Haridwar where the state government has set up two special cells to help over 2,000 tourists and pilgrims from Maharashtra.

The contingent includes top civil servants, medicos, transport authorities and revenue department officials, the chief minister said.

Besides, the entire team of Maharashtra Sadan in the capital, led by the resident commissioner there, is co-ordinating the relief measures for the people.

A vast majority of the people from the state have been either evacuated or traced since the mega-deluge of last Sunday, and a few hundred have already returned safely to their home-state in batches in the past couple of days, officials said.

Though official figures are not available, a few hundred people have still not been traced despite efforts by the officials.

The Maharashtra government has extended Rs.10 crore to the Uttarakhand government to cover the expenses for rescuing people from the state.

Besides, the Mumbai Congress has given another Rs.11 million for the purpose and more funds are likely to be garnered from various sources by the state for the relief efforts, sources said.

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