Shah visits rain-hit Uttarakhand, state govt pegs damage at Rs 7,000 cr
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday conducted an aerial survey of rain-ravaged areas of Uttarakhand to asses the damage which the state government has pegged at Rs 7,000 crore.
Talking to reporters at the Jollygrant airport here after returning from the survey of affected areas in Kumaon region, Shah said that alertness of the central and state government agencies had helped contain the damage.
Relief and rescue operations continued in the worst-hit Kumaon region amid efforts to restore connectivity and evacuate people from vulnerable areas.
Earlier, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said three days of incessant rains in the state have caused damages worth Rs 7,000 crore. Restoring the network of damaged roads and bridges at the earliest and evacuating people to safety is the priority at the moment, he said.
"A heavy rain alert was issued well in advance which helped take required precautionary steps like halting the Chardham Yatra. The damage could have been more if it was not done. Timely mobilisation of search and rescue teams, and arrival of IAF helicopters to assist in rescue operations helped minimise the potential damage," Shah said.
"Sixty-four unfortunate rain-related deaths have been reported in the state, while more than eleven people are still missing," he said.
According to state authorities, the death toll due to rain-related incidents in the state increased to 54, with 19 people injured and five still missing. Nainital district has reported the maximum number of 28 deaths.
The Union minister did not announce any immediate relief package for Uttarakhand due to the devastation caused by incessant rains, saying a detailed estimate of the losses needs to be prepared first.
He said that an amount of Rs 250 crore was sent to the state nearly a month ago considering its vulnerability to natural disasters and it can take care of the relief and rescue measures currently underway.
The Centre is with the state government and it will give all support to Uttarakhand in its rehabilitation efforts, Shah said.
He said all blocked roads in the affected areas have been cleared, except three which suffered nearly 25 metre-wide breaches, and added that 3,500 people have been rescued so far.
Big breaches may take more time to repair, the Union minister said.
Eighty per cent telephone connectivity has been restored and availability of 60 per cent electricity ensured so far in the affected areas, he said, adding the remaining shortage will also be removed soon.
Earlier, accompanied by Uttarakhand Governor Lt Gen (retd) Gurmit Singh, the chief minister, Union Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt and state Disaster Management Minister Dhan Singh Rawat, Shah undertook an aerial survey of the affected areas.
He returned to the Jollygrant airport after the survey and held a meeting with senior officials in the presence of the chief minister.
Due to the heavy downpour and flooding of the Naini lake, the area around Dhobi Ghat in Nainital is experiencing major landslides, District Magistrate Dhiraj Singh Garbiyal said.
This area is right at the base of Nainital and is believed to be the foundation of the town. About a 100 families living in Dhobi Ghat have been shifted, he said.
Garbiyal said relief camps have been set up at a number of places.
Twenty-five people were airlifted and six others rescued with the help of rafts in Ramnagar, while 30 families from Sundarkhal and Ramnagar were airlifted and moved to safe locations, he said.
Relief camps have also been set up in Puchdi area which was flooded. Fifty-four people of 10 families living in Puchdi Nai Basti have been accommodated in a relief camp set up at Government Girls Primary School Poochri, he said.
A total of 150 people were brought to Ramnagar safely in roadways buses and sent to their destinations free of cost while 97 families affected by floods in Lalkuan have been shifted to a gurdwara and relief camps, he said.
Meanwhile, the Chardham Yatra which was halted temporarily on October 18 due to the heavy rain alert issued by the MeT department has resumed with pilgrims leaving for Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri from Rishikesh Chardham bus terminal and Haridwar bus stand.
Heli services for Kedarnath have also resumed as the weather at the Himalayan temples is chilly but there is no rain.