Uttarakhand Tourism Minister expresses concern over bad weather conditions

Dehradun, June 20 (ANI): Uttarakhand Tourism Minister Amrita Rawat and Lok Sabha MP Satpal Maharaj, who were to make an aerial survey of rain-ravaged areas in Uttarakhand today could not fly because of bad weather.

Rawat said the chopper had to return as the weather is bad and there is no visibility "There is fog everywhere. There is no visibility and so they (pilots) have brought us back. If there is improvement in the weather conditions, we will fly again," she said.

"The helicopters will not fly if there is no improvement in the weather conditions. So, how will the people be rescued, the aerial route is the only medium through which one can go and rescue the people," she added.

Satpal Maharaj, the MP of Garhwal, said the rescue operations have been affected by bad weather.

"The high-tension wires are not visible. So, there can be casualty. The pilot told us that it's better to go back. There is fog and nothing is visible. So, they are facing problems in the rescue operations," he said.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna yesterday said he was not in a position to give the exact estimate of unprecedented death and destruction in the state.

"It will take months to improve the situation in Uttarakhand. Our main concern is that the tourists should be safe. Phone calls are coming in from all over the country. Many state chiefs have come forth with help and I thank them for that," said Bahuguna.

"The main problem here is that since the roads and the bridges are damaged, how will the people be rescued? Now the helicopter is the only medium. More than 20 choppers are there. They are from the Air Force, our personal (government) ones and some brought on lease," he added.

Bahuguna said the first priority is to rescue the stranded people especially those on pilgrimage from various parts of the country, distribution of medicines and rehabilitation and compensation for the affected.

Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh yesterday along with Congress President Sonia Gandhi made an aerial survey of the worst-hit areas in the state.

Expressing serious concern over the entire incident, Dr. Singh also announced 1,000 crore rupee disaster flood relief for the state where flash floods have claimed over a hundred lives and left thousands of pilgrims to Himalayan shrines stranded.

The Uttarakhand Government has set up helpline numbers at Dehradun to provide information about flood-hit areas and people. The helpline numbers are 0135-2717300, 2716201, 2710925, 09411112985 and 09412054085. The Uttarakhand Government has also put up the names of people rescued from flood-hit areas on the state Police website www.uttarakhandpolice.uk.gov.in. (ANI)

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