Dehradun : Already reeling under the worst-ever tragedy in the history of the region, the Uttarakhand government geared itself so as to not to be caught napping this time, and put all district magistrates on alert, with the meteorological department further predicting another spell of very heavy rains on July 5, 6 and 7.
The rains, as per the met department are going to be widespread, but special warnings have been issued for Pithoragarh, Champawat, Nainital and Udmasingh Nagar districts of Kumaon division of this small mountain state and Chamoli district of Garhwal division. It is being presumed that these districts could receive about 70 mms to 130 mms of rainfall.
With most of the flood ravaged districts of Garhwal division already facing an acute crisis of relief and rehabilitation works, with a large number of villages completely cut off and a number of major roads destroyed, which could take some time to repair, the NDRF has been camped in Guptkashi, so that its personnel could be dispatched to affected areas should there be an emergency.
Officials here admitted that though evacuation of all pilgrims of the char dham yatra had been completed, but the relief and rehabilitation process of specially the villages in the upper districts of this small mountain state had just begun to pick up. “As a large number of villages are completely cut off, sending essential commodities there had become a problem”, they claimed.
They said that the situation had been compounded with the fact that there was non-availability of diesel in most of the inner areas of the state, because of which the supply position had been badlu hit. “A large number of trucks have gone off the road because of non-availability of diesel and sending tankers with diesel is taking time”, they confided.
Meanwhile as the state government officially announced that all pilgrims who had been stranded had been evacuated from the four major pilgrim shrines of the state, viz Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamnotri and Gangotri, the ominous task facing it was the finding of dead bodies that were lying beneath tons of debris and conducting the last rites of hundreds of bodies that were littering, particularly the Gauri Kund-Ram Bara-Kedarnath stretch, which was the worst hit.
The first group of a special team constituted particularly for this task had already been airlifted by choppers to Gauri Kund and Kedarntah. More members of the team, comprising doctors, emgineers, police personnel and labourers will be airlifted today. The team will try to clear the debris in the temple town and other places besides preserving the DNA of the bodies whose last rites are conducted.
This could be a yeoman task, as even after 17 days that the tragedy struck the region the state government could perform the last rites of only 37 bodies after preserving their DNAs. In fact the team of doctors that had been sent to do the task of preserving the DNAs reported sick because of the smell of putrefying flesh in the region and had to be flown back.
Reports trickling to the state headquarters said that there were fears that most of the bodies in Kedarnath, Gauri Kund and Ram Bara areas could be in advanced form of decay and it would be a hard task for the team of doctors and others to perform their task. There were also reports that wild animals like bear and leopards may have attacked some of the bodies and not much purpose may be achieved in taking their photographs.
Incidentally much is required in the coordination of the various organisations and bodies engaged in the relief and rescue works in the state. The figures that are being doled out by the government do not tally at the ground level. According to chief minister, Vijay Bahuguna about 3100 people are reported missing, but as per the FIRs lodged at various districts of Garhwal division the number of persons missing is out at 4525.
However, officials here said that the reason for this could be that there may be many instances where persons have lodged FIRs of the missing at two places. “There is every reason to believe that reports may have been lodged at the district where the person went missing from and then also at Dehra Dun, so there is every that this number is more than the actual number of people missing”, they contended.
A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt was Editor, Hill Post (Uttarakhand).
Jagdish had worked with India’s leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, he was a recipient of many awards
Jagdish Bhatt, aged 72, breathed his last on 28th August 2021 at his Dehradun residence.