Heavy rains send people to safer zones in Uttarakhand

Dehra Dun : Incessant rains over the past 48 hours and with the weatherman predicting another 24 hours of inclement weather coupled with moderate to heavy showers, the rotors of the choppers airdropping food supplies to people in cut off villages have stopped. Relief teams are stranded and thousands of people are on hungry stomachs.

It is not only the residents of the hundreds of villages that are completely cut off ar link roads are washed away, but the official team that had gone to Kedarnath to undertake the cremation of the bodies said to be scattered there and also collect the DNA are also at their wits end as their supplies are on the verge of being finished.

Though reports are that they have been told to take their needs from the shops in the Kedarnath township itself to meet their immediate requirements, for which the owners would be compensated later, but official word is that supplies will be airdropped as soon as the weather clears and the choppers can make some sorties.

Though the government said that a team of 200 people will be sent to Kedarnath to undertake the cremation and collect DNA samples, but district magistrate Rudraprayag said that there were about 75 persons in the team at Kedarnath at present. As there is no way of sending ration and other supplies by road, the only way is to wait for the weather to clear so that choppers can undertake sorties, official sources said.

Meanwhile, they confirmed that following the warning of the meteorological department of heavy to very heavy rains in the entire state, warning had been issued to people and they had been asked to move to higher terrains. “The people, specially those living in the lower lying areas along the rivers yet to recover from the June 16 devastation have taken heed of the warning and shifted to higher and dafer places, where their needs are being looked into”, sources claimed.

They said that efforts to clean the Kedarnath shrine and remove the debris which seemed to have partially buried the entire township could not make much headway because of the heavy rains. Further efforts to locate the bodies and cremate them after collecting the DNA samples also could not be done due to the rains.

But what is disturbing the state authorities is the fact that the stench of putrefying bodies in the entire area was lowering the morale and spirits of the relief team that had been sent. This coupled with the fact that their ration supply was low and the weather continued to be bad was demoralising them and some members of the team would have to be replaced as soon as the choppers could make it to Kedarnath.

With most of the rivers being in spate and the rains continuing to lash the higher reaches, particularly the catchment areas of these river, there were fears that the water level would rise further. Ersiion was being reported from various places and reports from Srinagar (Garhwal) said that the Chauras campus of H N Bahuguna University was in danger.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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