Zee Media Bureau
Dehradun: At least 30,000 to 32,000 people are still stranded in the mountains of Uttarakhand, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde informed on Saturday.
Briefing reporters here after reviewing relief and rescue efforts in the state hit by what is being dubbed as ‘Himalayan Tsunami’, Shinde said no effort was being spared in rescuing those stranded following flash floods and cloud bursts in the upper reaches of the hilly state.
“Despite bad weather, the Army, NDRF and ITBP are landing and conducting rescue operations. Operations are underway on a war footing,” Shinde said, adding nearly 30,000 people have been evacuated so far.
“We are trying our best to evacuate fast,” the minister sought to assure, adding evacuation is likely to be complete in the next two days.
“We have ordered the Border Roads Organisation to built access roads so that stranded people can be reached,” Shinde said.
The minister informed that some of the bodies recovered were not identifiable. “Identification of dead bodies has begun. DNA tests of decomposed bodies will also be undertaken,” Shinde added.
According to Shinde, there was perceived lack of coordination in rescue efforts. To overcome the same, the Centre has appointed a nodal officer, former union home secretary VK Duggal, to oversee the rescue operations, he added.
The minister said about 200 people are stuck in Jangalchetti. “Our priority right now is to provide them food somehow,” he stated.
When asked why the Uttarakhand floods were not declared a national disaster as yet, Shinde shot back, “What will we get by announcing this as a national disaster? Will we gain anything more? Don’t do politics on this.”
In reply to another question, he said: “Don`t think it’s a manmade disaster; it’s a natural disaster. There were two cloudbursts. How can it be a manmade disaster?”
The minister also assured that “as much funds are needed, we are willing to provide it for the Uttarakhand flood relief”.
The Home Minister informed that “550 deaths had occurred till yesterday; 392 people are injured and 334 people are missing.”
“Also, 1,751 houses, 147 bridges and 1,307 roads have got damaged,” he added.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna meanwhile said the floods were “a massive disaster”. He added that the state government was sparing no efforts in rescuing stranded people.
“We will be giving Rs 2000 each from tomorrow to all people who are still stranded,” Bahuguna informed.