Uttarakhand Flood crisis: CM Bahuguna heckled by protesters

Joshimath/Dehradun/New Delhi, June 20 (ANI): Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna was reportedly heckled by protesters in Joshimath on Thursday, a day after meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to seek more flood-related aid from the Central Government.

The Central Government had on Wednesday announced a Rs.1000 crore releif package for Uttarakhand where over 130 people have died and tens of thousands have been left ravaged by floods brought on by heavy monsoon showers.

Bahuguna had gone to visit rescued pilgrims in Joshimath, but the protesters claimed they had got no assistance from the state government.

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Himachal Pradesh, rescue operations have picked up pace in rain-battered tribal Kinnaur District with two IAF and one state chopper making sorties to rescue 600 tourists and others stranded in remote areas.

The sorties started at 6.30 a.m. this morning.

People have been stranded at various places for the past five, and some of them are now being dropped off at Rampur, official sources said.

Airforce and copter sorties have been undertaken to Sangla, Rekong Peo, Nako, Pooh and other remote places that continue to remain cut-off.

However, a large number of people are expected to be evacuated by this evening.

The army too has setup temporary helipads in Uttarakhand

An army official revealed that a force of 100 paratroopers will be deployed on the Gaurikund Somprayag Road to assist in rescue operations.

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Manish Tewari said the government is aware of the prevailing situation in Uttarakhand and in other parts affected by the natural calamity, and added that the central government will provide all help needed.

Tiwari was speaking after a Cabinet meeting today.

Uttarakhand's Labour Minister Harish Chandra Durgapal said that the state government is working round the clock to help those in distress, and called for greater public support.

"This incident happened suddenly. The state government is working day and night. We want everyone's support. There is actual figure about how many people have died. Rescue operations are being hampered by fog," he said.

In Dehradun, Air Commodore Rajesh Issar, who is one of the officers monitoring the ongoing rescue effort, said: "Our main focus is the Kedarnath Valley. We have done a very good job in providing supplies. We have rescued more than 500 people who were stranded very badly."

He described the situation in Kedarnath as very critical, but added that efforts were on to air drop food and other essential supplies at regular intervals.

He said that the air force was putting in its best efforts to rescue as many of the thousands stranded in the Kedarnath Valley.

"We are trying our best. We have conducted 100 rescue sorties so far," he said.

In New Delhi, Director-General of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Ajay Chadha, said: "From today itself, the helicopter operation has been started. From Son Prayag, a lot of people have been rescued, but in Kedarnath, the roads are completely damaged. That is why it is creating a lot of problems. It depends on the weather also."

"A lot of battalions are being working in Kedernath. Problems due to landing the choppers are hindering the operation. Wherever, we are getting information, our team is reaching there," he added.

Uttarkashi District Magistrate Rajesh Kumar said several roads have be re-opened and that at least 5000 people have been rescued so far.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) Member J.K.Sinha said: "The situation is that communication has become very tough. The roads are broken. The situation is very serious, because we have no idea of how many people have got affected."

"People from different corners of the country come here. I think around 50-60K (thousand) people must be trapped. If we estimate how many people were there, it seems difficult to say at this point of time that the operation will go on till the last man is evacuated."

Sinha further said that every effort was being made to improvise to bring the situation arising out of the natural calamity under control.

"Thirteen NDRF teams are there. Each team consists of 38 men, which has doctors as well They are all equipped with medicines," he said. (ANI)

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