Uttarakhand was ravaged by early monsoon rains on Friday and till Monday, the state is continuing to reel under the onslaught from the devastation, both human and material, caused by the tragedy. Tonnes of debris flowed downhill after cloubdbursts spewed large amounts of water in a very short span of time across a large area inundating villages and trashing homes. As many as 18 people lost their lives and property worth thousands of crores was destroyed not to mention the fact that the state’s infrastructure in the form of roads and government services were disrupted due to the massive destruction. Days after that the state is looking to restore normalcy as rains subside with authorities rushing in rescue and relief teams.
It was in the early hours on Friday that a series of cloudbursts in the region sent water gushing into villages in Pithoragarh and Chamoli districts, killing 12 immediately and trapping scores of others in the shattered homes. With emergency teams unable to reach them quickly, the chances of their survival was remote and that caused the death toll to spiral.
Amongst the villages worst hit by the cloudbursts are Rikuniya, Sighali, Naulda, Bastadi, Pipli and Charma in Pithoragarh district and Jakhli, Gortansan, Kotiyal, Siro, and Didihat in Chamoli. Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat also sanctioned Rs 5 crore to Pithoragarh and Chamoli in addition to the funds allocated to them earlier. Rawat also sanctioned an additional Rs 3 crore to each of the rest of the hill districts; districts located in the plains were allocated Rs one crore.
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Authorities scrambled teams from the NDRF, SDRF, SSB, ITBP, DMMC and police to carry out rescue operations under the supervision of District Magistrates and SPs in the affected districts. That things got worse for the trapped people was clear from the fact that as many as 10 rivers and rivulets including Mandakini and Nandakini were in spate.
Three more bodies were recovered from the debris on Sunday from the Bastadi and Nauleda villages in Pithoragarh, even as searches were on for more missing people. As far as survivors are concerned, with water, electricity supply and communication systems being badly hit, their day to day activities have been limited to bare sustenance levels, even as authorities battle the elements to restore them at the earliest. Around 160 families, affected by rain related incidents, have been kept in makeshift relief camps built in government schools and panchayat buildings in both Basatadi and Naulada villages.
Overcoming hindrances posed by the weather with intermittent rains lashing most parts of the state, Army, para-military and police personnel continued their rescue and search operations in the affected areas, ADG (law and order) Anil Raturi said. However, he made it clear that there was no report of any untoward incident caused by the rains today from anywhere. He said the Army had recovered an elderly woman alive from Pithoragarh yesterday and has shared the information on Twitter.
Restoration work is on even as rubble falling from hillsides has blocked Rishikesh-Badrinath highway besides 33 other rural roads in Chamoli district.
Considering the extent of damage in the state, Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat has ordered a stay on government employees taking leave over the next three months to avoid any shortage of manpower in case of any emergency. He also wrote to Union Home Ministry requesting state licenses for 22 satellite phones for better communication between agencies involved in rescue operations in the affected areas.
Check out this horrifying Uttarakhand flood video:
Uttarakhand CM also wrote a separate letter to Communications Minister Ravishankar Prasad asking him to allocate spectrum of HF/BHF network to the state immediately to help in smooth conduct of relief and rescue operations.
Rescue teams have continued to look for as many as 25 people who went missing following landslides, but by Monday hopes of finding survivors have diminished considerably.
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