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Kedarnath in debris, thousands of pilgrims remain stranded

Source : PTI
Last Updated: Wed, Jun 19, 2013 16:59 hrs
In Pictures: Deadly monsoon rains batter north India

Dahradun: Uttarakhand chief minister Vijay Bahuguna on Wednesday said it would be difficult for the Kedarnath Yatra to be resumed for a year.

"I don't think we can resume the yatra there for one year. 18km of road has been damaged. Kedarnath is in debris. The temple has been saved but there is eight to ten feet of debris all around," he told reporters.

The chief minister said until the road is constructed, the debris cannot be removed. "We need machines, cooperation of the Army, Air Force. So, it is a problem of large magnitude. The state government and the central government together are doing their best," he said.



Bahuguna said if the weather is favourable in the coming days, then things will improve.

Over 10,000 personnel of the armed forces, 18 helicopters and a transport plane of the Air Force have been deployed for relief and rescue operations in the state where thousands have been stranded at tourist spots and pilgrim centres.

Toll rises to 150

The terrible magnitude of nature's fury in Uttarakhand unfolded as the death toll rose to 150 with fears that it may go up substantially as large parts remained under water while hundreds of houses and buildings lay in ruins.

After an aerial survey of the affected areas, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a Rs 1,000 crore aid to the state where large-scale devastation has occurred.

Skies cleared today enabling stepping up of rescue and relief operations but the efforts were hampered by the vast destruction of the roads caused by landslips and flash floods that damaged hundreds of houses, buildings, hotels and government guest houses.

Several thousand pilgrims from across the country are still stranded in the state as reports came that the Kedarnath temple, one of the four holy dhams, was intact but the temple complex and the Rambada area around it have suffered total destruction.

"Very heavy casualties are feared and I cannot give the exact number without a proper survey," said Uttarakhand chief minister Vijay Bahuguna who described the flood ravage as unprecedented caused by a "Himalayan tsunami".

Singh and Congress President made an aerial survey of the affected areas and described what they saw as "most distressing".

He announced Rs 1,000 crore aid for the state for disaster relief of which Rs 145 crore is being released immediately.

"I have also directed all Central agencies to render all possible assistance in their domain to the state," he told reporters on his return.

PM announces Rs 1,000 crore relief

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced Rs 1,000 crore for disaster relief measures in flood-devastated parts of Uttarakhand where 102 persons have been killed and thousands left stranded at tourist spots and pilgrim centres.

Singh, who undertook an aerial survey of rain-ravaged Uttarakhand alongwith UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, said what they saw was "most distressing" and the priority for the authorities was to rescue the stranded and provide succour to those most in need of it.

Over 10,000 personnel of the armed forces, 18 helicopters and a transport plane of the Air Force have been deployed for relief and rescue operations in the state where thousands have been stranded at tourist spots and pilgrim centres.

"What chairperson UPA and I saw today was most distressing. While the most recent estimates put the death toll at 102, it is feared that loss of lives could eventually be much higher," Singh told reporters here.

He said more than 10,000 people have been rescued and were being provided food, clothing and shelter.

"Many persons still remain stranded. The maximum damage has been in Kedarnath and its vicinity," he said.

"I have decided to provide an amount of Rs 1000 crore to Uttarakhand for disaster relief, of which Rs 145 crore is being released immediately," Singh said after a meeting with state chief minister Vijay Bahuguna.

Singh said he has also directed all Central Agencies to render all possible assistance in their domain to the State.

The PM announced ex gratia assistance of Rs two lakh each to the families of those who have lost their lives and Rs 50,000 each to those injured.

In addition, ex gratia assistance of Rs one lakh each would also be provided to those whose houses have been completely destroyed and Rs 50,000 each to those whose houses have been damaged.

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