New Delhi, June 21: Tomorrow could be too late. It is seventh day today after Saturday's cloudburst in Uttarakhand. But it may take another five to six days before authorities could rescue over 5,000 people still trapped in Badrinath.
There is shortage of food and water and the fate of the pilgrims and locals is not known.
Chamoli District Magistrate SA Murugesan says that it will take at least five to six days to rescue people from Badrinath. Even with so much air support and technology, the delay is perplexing.
The delay could be fatal as the Met department has forecast inclement weather and more rains in the region from June 23.
This would not only jeopardize the rescue operations but would also snap the last ray of hope for thousands still stranded. This holds true for the rest of Uttarakhand.
Rescue agencies have received reports of starvation as pilgrims have been isolated without access to food or water. People could die due to cold, fatigue and hunger. Apart from people in towns, thousands are stranded on various roads with many mountain roads and bridges being washed out.
Normally, the temperature in Badrinath is around 18 C during noon and night temperature drops to 9 C in June. With rains, the temperature could have dropped further. Against this background, the people stranded in Badrinath may not have much chance of survival, if their rescue is delayed any further.
Pilgrims, who are generally from the plains with teperate climate, may not survive the cold hilly climate. The 3 sqkm holy town may not have enough stock of food and as road networks are completely destroyed, there is no scope of rushing anything in hurry, except for air dropping.
The government is so pathetically equipped that its own supplies are depleting fast.
The Army and Border Road Organisation were running out of food even as an estimated 50,000 pilgrims are believed to be stranded in Uttarkhand.
At one place, even the National Disaster Response Force team is also stranded with their stock running out.
The issue of shortages of food, as well as acute scarcity of aviation fuel for helicopters figured prominently at a review meeting conducted by the Cabinet Secretary on Thursday.
Uttarakhand government officials say that nearly 1,100 small and big roads in the state have been damaged or completely washed away. They say 94 bridges have been washed away and in Rudraprayag alone, 26 bridges have been destroyed.