Chandigarh, June 19 (IANS) With hundreds of pilgrims from Punjab stranded near the Sikh shrine of Hemkund Sahib in the calamity-hit Uttarakhand, the Punjab government has hired a private helicopter to airlift them, a spokesman of the Chief Minister's Office said here Wednesday.
He said the helicopter has been hired by the state government on the directions of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
The helicopter will be pressed into service in coordination with authorities in Uttarakhand to rescue the stuck pilgrims from Punjab, said the spokesman.
He said a four-member team of senior Punjab government officials has already left for Dehradun, capital of Uttarakhand, to monitor the entire ongoing rescue operation and ensure the safe return of the Sikh pilgrims.
"This team would also visit Joshimath and Sri Hemkund Sahib to minutely observe and coordinate the rescue operations," the spokesman said.
Hundreds of pilgrims from Punjab have been stranded in the area around the Sikh shrine following cloudburst, heavy rain and landslides there.