Step up rescue and relief operations further, says apex court

New Delhi, June 25 (IANS) The Supreme Court Tuesday asked the government to step up the rescue and relief operations in calamity-struck Uttarakhand as it was told that that 95,500 stranded people have been evacuated so far.

"We will not pass any order. Please step up your rescue and relief activities," the court said.

The action taken report by the central and Uttarakhand governments was filed in pursuance to June 20 direction of the apex court.

A bench of Justice A.K. Patnaik and Justice Ranjan Gogoi also allowed the PIL petitioner, advocate Ajay Bansal, to give his suggestions to the government for augmenting the rescue and relief operations.

Directing the listing of the PIL for further hearing Friday, the court said the government should consider Bansal's suggestions.

In the summery of rescue and relief operations undertaken so far, the central government said 10,000 soldiers and 1,200 Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel were engaged in the rescue and relief operation.

Besides this 300 personnel of Indian Air Force (IAF) too were engaged in rescue operations and its planes had so far carried out 1,189 sorties while army helicopters undertook 419 sorties. In all 59 helicopters were involved in the rescue and relief operations which included 43 helicopters of the IAF, 13 of the army and 11 private.

The court was told that more than 4,000 vehicles have been deployed to bring the stranded people to Haridwar and Dehradun and other safe locations.

The status report on the steps undertaken for the restoration of roads said that there were major landslides at 98 locations and Border Road Organisation (BRO) deployed 32 bull dozers, 28 excavators, abd 35 JCBs for restoring the road connectivity in the affected area.

It said that Rishikesh-Joshimath-Mana stretch along NH-7 was restored up to Km-496 for all traffic.

The government said that at the request of the Uttarakhand government, 2,000 tonnes of wheat and 2,000 tonnes of rice at the economic cost have been allocated to the state government for meeting its requirements on June 21. The court was told that the armed forces provided food to 20,380 people.

The report said that the senior home ministry officials were in constant touch with the state government officials for extending required support and the ministry was monitoring the situation through the control room.

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