‘Environment policy needed to prevent Uttarakhand-like disaster’

Haridwar, June 30 (IANS) The central government should declare a national environment policy to stop illegal construction and prevent a disaster like the one that wrecked Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan said Sunday.

Chauhan also asked for the Uttarakhand flash floods to be declared a national calamity.

“When you tamper with nature, then nature will unleash its fury on you,” Chauhan told IANS. Talking of the mushrooming of several buildings near rivers in Uttarakhand, he said: “Illegal construction and corruption go hand in hand.”

“Over 5,000 people (from Madhya Pradesh) have been rescued. The main ‘challenge’ is to trace the more than 600 people who are missing in the Uttarakhand floods,” Chauhan said.

Interacting with those who had returned from the Badrinath and Kedadrath Valley, Chauhan said over 5,035 people have returned to various parts of Madhya Pradesh by helicopters, buses and trains.

He said around 593 people are still missing in Uttarakhand from his state. In order to trace the missing people, he has appointed Inspector General Pramod Phadnekar, who had earlier worked with the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), he added.

Chauhan said he would meet Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna and offer help in the reconstruction of devastated village infrastructure swept away in the flash floods that hit the state on the weekend of June 15.

He said that 15 senior officers of the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service from Madhya Pradesh were stationed at the relief camps, along with state Culture and Religion Minister Laxmikant Sharma, to aid rescue operations.

Chauhan found people thronging to him with requests to trace their loved ones who were missing, even as he spoke at Shantikunj, the headquarters of the spiritual and social organisation All World Gayatri Pariwar (AWGP), that was established in 1971.

“Till the time I am alive, I will continue to search for them,” he said.

Chauhan declared a compensation package of Rs.2 lakh for the next of kin of those who died in the floods, and Rs.5 lakh for those who have lost their entire family.

The next of kin of those who died in the IAF helicopter crash last Tuesday would be given Rs.10 lakh, the Madhya Pradesh chief minister said.

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