New Delhi/Dehradun, June 22 (ANI): The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on Saturday took the Congress-led UPA Government to task for what it called insincerity while dealing with the situation post the Uttarakhand floods, and said that the concerned officials should reach out to the stranded people, bring them to safer places and rehabilitate them.
RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav said 'it is really heart wrenching to see that thousands of devotees who had gone to have a 'darshan' of Lord Shiva had to perish in this manner'.
"We hear that the numbers are growing and it may go into thousands also. It's really shocking and saddening. What is more shocking and saddening is that somehow the government's response is bordering on apathy. They are not showing the kind of eagerness, the kind of sincerity that is called for in such situations, in such major calamities from any government," he added.
Madhav said it is not enough if the Prime Minister tours the affected areas in a helicopter.
"What is needed is that government officials should reach out to the affected people, people who are stuck in the hills and help them, bring them to safer places, rehabilitate them. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be happening in that area," said Madhav.
"We expect the government to declare this as a national calamity and even in that I don't know why the government is hesitating. The government should have declared it as a national calamity and should have asked the whole country to rise up and support the effected," he added.
Evacuation of stranded people from flood-ravaged areas of Uttarakhand today picked up pace with security forces rescuing 17 foreign tourists from Dharasu and sighting 1000 pilgrims stuck between Kedarnath and Gaurikund.
Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, who took stock of the affected areas in Uttarakhand today, said the Centre will provide all possible help to the Vijay Bahuguna Government for rescue and relief operations in flood and cloud burst affected areas of the hill state.
Shinde, who took stock of the rescue and relief operations in the flash flood hit areas of the hill state, said the evacuations will be completed in one or two days if the rescue operations continue in the same manner.
"Despite bad weather, the Army, NDRF and ITBP are landing and conducting rescue operations. Operations are underway on a war footing," he said, while emphasizing that the men in uniform are trying their best to evacuate those stranded.
The Home Minister said the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has been ordered to build access roads so that the stranded people can be reached.
Shinde said the identification of dead bodies has begun.
He, however, said that some of the bodies recovered were not identifiable.
" DNA tests of decomposed bodies will also be undertaken," said Shinde.
Shinde informed that the government has appointed former Union Home Secretary V.K. Duggal as a nodal officer to oversee the relief and rescue operations.
He informed that 550 deaths had occurred till yesterday.
Shinde further said there is no need to declare the situation as a national calamity as it makes no difference so far the relief and rescue operations are concerned. He also asked the political parties not to do politics on the situation.
Over 73,000 people have so far been evacuated from the flood and landslide-hit areas of Uttarakhand as rescuers intensified their efforts to help those stranded in different inaccessible parts of the hill state.
The army is reaching out to the civil population by providing food packets, establishing medical camps and deploying its technically endowed manpower, to ensure that the vulnerable bunds are strengthened and breaches are effectively plugged.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has deployed 13 more aircraft for relief and rescue operations. 55 helicopters are being used in what is the military's largest rescue and relief operation ever.
The IAF has also deployed its heavy lift MI-26 helicopters for transporting fuel and heavy equipment required by the Boarder Road Organization (BRO) to clear roads closed due to landslide.
With the Meteorological Department warning of more rain and storms from Monday, the various agencies on the ground, including the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), are operating with urgency.
Special trains are being run, and additional bogies have been added to existing trains to help the pilgrims reach their destinations.
The Uttarakhand Government has set up control rooms in all districts. These include: State Emergency and Operation Centre - 0135-2710334, 9897890981, 9152443853; Rudraprayag - 01364-233727, 9412914875 and 8859504022; Nainital - 05942-231179, 9456714092 and Dehradun - 0135-2726066, 9412964935. (ANI)