New Delhi, June 24: Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna today said the remaining stranded people--numbering about 10,000--in the flood-ravaged state are safe and that the mammoth multi-agency evacuation process will be completed in two to three days.
"Worst is over now. All are safe in Badrinath, Harsil and Gangotri. Army, ITBP and NDRF are present there. It will take 2-3 days to finish the rescue work. Kedarnath valley is almost evacuated," Bahuguna told PTI over phone.
As the state tries to recover from the floods and landslides triggered by the monsoon rain on June 16, Bahuguna said precautionary measures have been taken in the wake of the forecast by the weather office that heavy to very heavy rainfall will hit the state over the next three days.
"There are people stranded in Badrinath and Harsil but they are looked after. Army, ITBP and NDRF are present there. All the arrangements of food and water are made. As soon as the weather permits, they will be evacuated," he said.
Bahuguna also said the state did not require helicopters from other states. "Some states have offered to provide helicopters which we don't need. We have enough helicopters. Some states have given cheques in CM relief fund and we want to thank them," he said.
He also added that the state government will start disbursing compensation to the affected persons within a week. "Once the evacuation and rescue work is over, we will start distributing relief and disbursing compensation. This was the worst tragedy but I am sure we will overcome this with the help of state governments and Prime Minister," he said.
The Chief Minister also dismissed allegations that locals were being ignored in evacuation and relief work. "We are evacuating everyone, whether they are locals or piligrims. We are not discriminating," he said.
Bahuguna did not think that VIP visits have been hampering the rescue work. "VIPs are not going to those areas where people are stranded. They just make an aerial visit and go back. They are also not using the helipad made for rescue work," he added.
Once the rescue work is over, he said the state government's prime challenge will be to restore the infrastructure that has been damaged in the deluge which is expected to take about three years.
"This tragedy has pushed us three years back in terms of development. The economy of Uttarakhand is based on tourism and we have lost infrastructure. We have to rebuild roads, electricity towers and all the basic infrastructure. It will take about 3 years to restore everything." He said.