Tourism Minister says lessons to be learnt from Uttarakhand flood tragedy

New Delhi/Gochar/Kedarnath (Uttarakhand), June 21 (ANI): Union Tourism Minister K.Chiranjeevi said on Friday that the devastating floods in Uttarakhand shouuld provide a serious lesson for the government to prepare for such calamities in the future.

Speaking in New Delhi, Chiranjeevi called for the construction of ropeways in the region to ensure safe and smooth travel for tourists.

"I think this disaster is a great lesson and the Government of India should also think and take it seriously. I am confident that the government will take all measures to restore normalcy," said Chiranjeevi.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) urged the government to declare a national calamity, so that funds can easily be allotted to the state.

"I request the Government of India to declare this as a national calamity because this is the rarest of rare. I have not seen in my life such a devastation anywhere in the country. That being the case, it has to be declared as a national calamity so that the country can take care of the entire sufferings of the people and make adequate arrangements for their reconstruction," said senior BJP leader M.Venkaiah Naidu.

Congress lawmaker Satpal Maharaj was most concerned about the re-construction of the Kedarnath temple and its adjoining region, which has been left in ruins by the swelling Ganges.

"The roads are completely wiped out because this was a cloud burst and no one can stop a cloud from bursting, thousands of gallons of water comes down, roads get wiped out, Kedarnath is destroyed and I would like to say this to the people of Uttarakhand and India that through the Badrinath-Kedarnath temples committee we would reconstruct the Kedarnath temple and take it to its former glory," said Satpal Maharaj.

Rains, which were 48 percent above normal across India up until June 16, are expected to ease up in the next week, according to weather department officials.

The low-lying areas have been battered by torrential downpours, as several highways have been blocked.

The inclement weather coupled with inaccessibility has made relief and rescue operations next to impossible.

Floods due to pre-monsoon rains that arrived a week ahead of schedule have swollen India's longest river Ganges, causing major devastation.

The rainfall has been heavier than normal, but the weather office is sticking to its forecast for average rains during the entire four-month period.

The rains usually cover all of India by mid-July, but this year it happened on June 16, the earliest such occurrence on record, a senior official at the India Meteorological Department said.

India is one of the world's biggest producers and consumers of grains and about 55 percent of its farmland relies on the monsoon for water. Heavy rain early in the June-September monsoon season makes planting easier, but if flooding persists, stagnant water can delay sowing or damage early rice shoots. (ANI)


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