Heavy rains lash Uttarakhand, water level rising in Ganga



Zee Media Bureau

Dehradun: The flood-devastated Uttarakhand on Wednesday witnessed heavy rainfall in several regions affecting the relief and rehabilitation work being carried out by various central and the state agencies in the Himalayan state.

According to reports, Garhwal and Kumaon regions of the state witnessed heavy downpour this morning which led to partial suspension of relief work in these areas.

Although the state authorities are monitoring the situation closely, the he Met department has predicted more rainfall in several districts of the state in the days to come.

According to the Met officials, heavy rainfall will continue for the next 48 to 72 hours. Heavy rainfall is predicted in Kumaon region, and districts such as Pithoragarh, Nainital, Champawat will be affected.

The warning from the Met department came a day after multiple agencies wrapped up their rescue mission in Badrinath, Maneri and Harsil regions in Uttarakhand.

The state administration has warned people for any eventuality and villagers have been asked to stay away from river banks as water level of Ganga is rising in Uttarkashi and Joshimath.

The state government officials involved in the relief and rehabilitation work fear that heavy rain and landslides could again block several key routes which were opened recently.

The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) and the Public Works Department (PWD) have been asked to see if there is any damage.

On Tuesday, the Indian Army, the Indian Air Force (IAF), paramilitary and NDRF personnel concluded the mammoth task of evacuating all those stranded in various regions of flood-hit Uttarakhand.

Officially, over 3,000 are still missing, but NGOs fear the figure could well be 10,000.

As authorities continued their efforts to account for the missing and reach out to far-flung areas with relief material, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) vice chairman Shashidhar Reddy said the official count of the missing was over 3,000 but the NGOs' estimate of 10,000 missing "cannot be ignored".

IAF spokesperson Squardon Leader Priya Joshi said that the first phase of Operation Rahat concluded Tuesday with a group of 150 being taken out to safety from Badrinath.

State government officials said around 1.1 lakh people stranded by flashfloods and landslides were evacuated by personnel of the army, IAF, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).

Officials said authorities now faced a challenging task of cremating badly decomposed bodies in Kedarnath area. The situation was compounded by a variety of factors, including bad weather.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna Tuesday said that over 3,000 people were missing and the focus was to reach out to people stuck in far-flung regions of the state.

He said that 800 people would be evacuated from Pithoragarh in choppers.

Asked about a UN report putting the missing number at 11,000, Bahuguna said that the figure of 3,000 has been arrived at with help of various agencies.

He said that thousands remain missing and parts of Uttarakhand were cut off even a fortnight after the devastating floods.

The NMDA put the number of villages affected by the tragedy -- one of the worst to hit India in recent times -- at over 2,000. Incessant rains in Uttarakhand for over three days from June 14 triggered flashfloods and landslides, leading to hundreds of deaths.

Reddy admitted that supply of food to the affected villages -- many of which have been washed away -- posed a challenge as vast stretches of roads and bridges were not accessible. On Tuesday, 100 tonnes of rice were given to the Badrinath administration for distribution among the needy.

Reddy said choppers were being used to send supplies and eight teams of the NDRF were camping in the affected areas.

He said 1,025 people injured in the nature's fury were being treated in hospitals. Of the 3,727 villages, 2,283 villages have been restored their power connectivity.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development has sent a two-member team to flood-hit Uttarakhand to asses the impact of the tragedy on children.

The Health Ministry has sent 1,600 body bags to Uttarakhand as part of relief efforts. While 1,100 body bags have been provided by the Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS), the health ministry has procured 500 bags.

A three-member team of the ministry is stationed in Dehradun to coordinate with state health authorities to provide assistance.

An official statement said that India has sought financial and technical assistance from the multilateral development agencies, especially the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), to help rebuild infrastructure in Uttarakhand.

IAF officials said eight to 10 helicopters would continue to be stationed in Uttarakhand. They said that the second phase of Operation Rahat will focus on relief and rehabilitation.

The officials said that under first phase of Operation Rahat, IAF conducted 2,240 sorties from June 18, evacuating 19,100 people and dropping 353,580 kg of relief material.

With IANS inputs