Rudraprayag villagers coming to terms with flood tragedy
Guptkashi: Pain and fear is writ large on the faces of villagers living in the hills of Rudraprayag with many natives working in Kedarnath killed in the deluge and many others washed away in the swirling waters in the district.
Villages and hamlets dotting the slopes are slowly coming to terms with the immense scale of tragedy that has visited them.
"Almost every village here had people working in the Kedarnath area. Many of them have not returned. Nobody knows what has become of them," said Bhupinder Singh Negi, the manager of Vishwanath Tourist Lodge in Guptkashi.
The numbers are substantial. A coordination centre being run from a lodge, which is situated right in the middle of the market, had the details.
"Tulanga has 27 persons missing. An equal number of villagers from Barasu too are untraceable. Twenty-four people are missing from Bhanigram, Devali 17.All these villages lie within Ukhimath block," said Rajendra Jamloki, one of the locals at the coordination centre.
He has a list for 20 villages which cumulatively have more than 220 people missing.
Locals here said that the figure would be higher as reports from these hamlets are still coming in.
"The state governments of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have sent officials here to join the rescue effort. The Uttarakhand government should try to reach out to the locals and find out how to provide relief to these people. They too have suffered," Jamloki said.
Stories of compassion are also pouring from the hills. "The villagers up in the jungles threw open their doors to the survivors. They shared whatever food they had with those coming down from Kedarnath and also provided them with clothing. These villages are now running out of supplies. The local administration has to think about them," said local Raghubeer Aswal, in between making announcements on the public address system.
Presenting a picture of the devastation, he said, "In the stretch of forests between Triyuginarayan and Jangal Chatti, we have heard there are countless dead bodies, pilgrims and locals both".
The locals have lost more than just family members.
A group of four, who had shops in Rambada, said those were washed away. "I had a pharmacy in Rambada and another in Sitapur. There is no trace of those shops," said Pradeep Kumar from Pithora village, about 6-km from Guptkashi.
His cousin, Uttam Kumar, used to run a `dhaba` in Rambada. That too does not exists any longer.
"We couldn`t recognise Son Prayag when we reached there via a jungle route on June 18.The place had been flattened. There were about 2,000 people there, looking to cross the raging Mandakini.Along with ITBP personnel, we made a bridge there of logs and fallen electric poles. Almost 1,600 people crossed to safety over that," Pradeep Kumar said.
They managed to arrive in Guptkashi on the same day.
Now he is back along with others from his village to help in the rescue operations.
He said that his shop was not insured and he has not received any word on any likely compensation. "I am not worried about my shop now. This tragedy is much bigger," he said.
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