Zee Media Bureau
Dehradun: Rescue of pilgrims stranded in Badrinath came to an end on Tuesday with about 150 of them being safely evacuated even as the state administration struggled with the task of supplying relief to remote parts of Uttarakhand where food grain shortage has been reported in as many as 170 villages.
On the 17th day of the calamity, the task of extricating bodies from the debris and their disposal in Kedarnath also remained a major headache for the administration with no cremation having taken place there over the past two days.
The number of bodies cremated there so far is still pegged at 36.
Chamoli District Magistrate SA Murugesan said, "All the pilgrims stranded in Badrinath dham have been evacuated. Now some locals and Nepali labourers remain there who will be evacuated by this evening if the weather permits."
However, supply of relief to affected villages continues to pose a challenge to the administration with a vast network of roads and bridges still damaged in the area, he said.
The bridge over Alaknanda at Lambagar is badly damaged which will take at least 2-3 months to be repaired, he said, adding that the BRO is working on it.
Officials said taking relief material to remote villages due to poor connectivity is a major problem.
Though choppers are being used for the purpose the exercise is confined to just a few areas, they said.
With Gaurikund-Kedar Highway still closed, there is foodgrain shortage in at least 170 villages in Kedarghati area in Rudraprayag district, officials said.
But relief material has been despatched to Kalimath, Chandrapuri and Sauri areas in the district.
Gangotri Highway in Uttarkashi district is blocked at eight points while Yamunotri Highway is closed from Hanumanchatti to Yamunotri making it difficult to take relief material to affected villages.
Over 11,000 may be missing: UN
A United Nations (UN) agency has estimated that the number of missing could be over 11,000 in Uttarakhand.
"According to data available till Sunday, 1,350 have been evacuated from Badrinath-800 by air and 550 by road. But there are some locals too like shopkeepers and ashram dwellers who also are being evacuated," National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Vice Chairman M Shashidhar Reddy told reporters in Delhi on Monday.
A total of 1,350 people have been evacuated from Badrinath while over 3,500 remain untraced in flood-hit Uttarakhand, the agency said.
The number of dead stands at 580 while the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has rescued 8,634 people from Kedarnath taking the overall evacuation to 1,08,253 people, Reddy said.
"According to the quantum of FIRs filed, the number of missing stands at 3,500-3,700 but a report prepared by a UN agency along with some NGO pegs the figure in excess of 11 thousand," Reddy said.
He added that the maximum deaths have reportedly occurred in the Kedarnath and Rambada areas while the number of injured registered so far has risen to 3,119.
"Though the excavators which were supposed to be airlifted yesterday in special Mi-26 helicopters could not be taken due to bad weather, about 385 heavy machines and bulldozers are locally in operation cutting through the debris," Reddy said.
He said the total number of affected villages has risen from 2,000 to above 4,000.
"The number of villages affected is 4200 from 2,375 mark two days ago. While 2,865 have their road connection restored, 1,335 still await connectivity. About 737 are still not ready for traffic," he said.
With PTI inputs