Tewari spells out govt.aid plans for flood-hit Uttarakhand(Update/Uttarakhand/Floods/Tewari)

New Delhi/Kedarnath, June 21 (ANI): Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari on Friday disclosed details of government-aid extended to Uttarakhand, which has been ravaged by fury floods and extensive landslides.

He stated this at a news conference that was addressed by him, Finance Minister P.Chidambaram and Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal here.

He mentioned that the Indian Air Force (IAF) has deployed more helicopters for rescue operations besides arrangements for free railway passage to the rescued victims and adequate funds for relief work.

"Indian Air Force has committed 13 more aircraft to Operation Raahat (code name for the rescue operations), taking the total number of aircraft upto 43. The Indian Air Force is also activating landing grounds at Gauchar and Dharasu in Uttarakhand to establish an air bridge for chopper movement," said Tewari.

The IAF's helicopters had undertaken numerous sorties to air-drop commandos to rescue as many as possible of the tens of thousands of locals, pilgrims and tourists, stranded due to the breached roads, landslides and gushing floods.

In a move designed to reassure residents and local authorities, Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh on June 19, announced a special relief package for the state government to tackle the flood problem.

Further to this, the Home Ministry too has advised additional relief packages, the Information and Broadcasting Minister said.

"The Ministry of Home Affairs in pursuance of the announcement of the prime minister has endeavoured to ensure the government of India releases an amount of 145 crore (1.45 billion rupees) from the state Disaster Relief Fund to the government of Uttarakhand as on 20th of June 2013," added Tewari.

The rains this season have been at least twice as heavy as usual in northwest and central India, covering extensive regions a month faster than normal.

Tewari also mentioned about the Indian Railways being asked to assign additional rakes to clear the rush of stranded tourists and pilgrims back to their homes, free of cost from two main railheads - Haridwar and Dehradun.

"In co-ordination with the government of Uttarakhand, Indian Railways have decided to carry all stranded passengers free of cost to their respective destinations. Railway administration is pulling out old stocks to ensure that sufficient empty coaching rakes are sent to Haridwar and Dehradun on priority. Northern Railway and its Moradabad Division have geared up to make appropriate arrangements," said Tewari.

The National Disaster Management Authority said a response force of 12 teams of 45 personnel each had been in action since Sunday. This has been in addition to the units of Indian Army and the paramilitary outfit of Indo-Tibetan Border Police. (ANI)

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