Dehradun, July 1: The state government on Monday announced various sops and facilities for those who were severely hit by the worst natural calamity a fortnight ago, with the search and rescue operations in the flood-devastated Uttarakhand almost nearing completion.
Uttarakhand CM Vijay Bahuguna announced setting up of a statutory body ‘Uttarakhand Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Authority' that will be entrusted with the task of rebuilding the hill state.
Rehabilitation and Reconstruction
The Chief Minister, while addressing a press conference, said that higher rate of compensation will be given for sugarcane farmers, adding, "Rs 500 each will be given to students in the affected families." The state government also completely banned any kind of construction on the banks of a river passing through the state.
Among various steps taken by the government to help those affected by the natural calamity, the CM said, "Free ration will be given to villages where connectivity has not been restored yet."
Power bills have been waived off for affected families and the state government has decided to compensate owners of all commercial establishments, from small dhaba vendors to big hotels that were hit by torrential rains, flash floods and landslides, the Uttarakhand CM said.
Restoration of damaged roads
Cranes being used for the restoration of damaged roads following lanslides in Rudraprayag, Uttarakhand on Sunday.
Damaged hotels and houses
Damaged hotels and houses at Gauri Kund on Friday following landslides and floods in Uttarakhand.
Kedarnath shrine, one of the holiest of Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, and other buildings are seen damaged on Thursday following heavy rains and flood in Uttarakhand.
A view of the washed off buildings around Kedarnath Dham in Uttarakhand on Tuesday following incessant rains and floods.
A damaged road caused by landslides in Gauchar
Local authorities clear a damaged road caused by landslides in Gauchar, Uttarakhand on Tuesday.
A damaged bridge at Joshimath
A damaged bridge at Joshimath in flood-ravaged Uttarakhad on Friday.
A damaged bridge in flooded Manjhawli
A view of a damaged bridge in flooded Manjhawli village in the catchment of Yamuna River near Faridabad on Thursday.
A view of the collapsed bridge
A view of the collapsed bridge over the flooded Alakhnanda River on Monday following incessant rains in Rudraprayag.
A view of damaged houses
A view of damaged houses after rains and flood in Srinagar, Uttrakhand on Tuesday.
Missing and dead
The announcement in this regard was made on the day when the rescue agencies were making last efforts to evacuate about 900 people from Badrinath amid bad weather conditions at some places across the Himalayan state.
According to reports, at least 1500 people, including locals, are still stranded at Badrinath, Maneri and Harsil, and efforts are on in full swing to evacuate them to safer places.
Despite bad weather at places including Dehradun, chopper operations began this morning in Chamoli district to evacuate about 300 pilgrims and 600 locals from Badrinath shrine to Joshimath from where they will be brought further down by road, reported Zee News.
According to latest official figures, at least 3,000 people are still missing and authorities are grappling with the grim task of clearing the debris, searching dead bodies and disposing them properly.
Himalayan state's Chief Minister on Sunday said that more than 1,300 villages remain cut-off by road and over 3,000 people are still missing.
Bahaguna also said that a team of 200 people, consisting of officials of various departments, including police, health, animal husbandry experts and sanitation, are being rushed to Kedarnath to collect DNA samples of bodies before the last rites are conducted.
Effect on health
Some of the medical experts, who had been sent to Kedarnath to take the DNA samples of the bodies there, have returned after falling sick.
With human bodies lying all over the area, the air is thick with a foul smell making it difficult for those sent to clear the debris stay there for long.
"The frequently changing weather with intermittent rains is another hurdle. We are going about the cremation process slowly," DIG Sanjay Gunjyal, who is supervising the exercise, said.
Meanwhile, the Chief Secretaries of various states concerned have been asked to verify the list and if the lost people are not traced in a month they will be declared dead.
On the 16th day of the calamity today, only 36 bodies have been disposed of amid necessary rituals so far in the worst-hit Kedarnath shrine area with no cremation having taken place there over the past two days, reported Zee News.
Rains on Sunday affected the National Disaster Response Force's (NDRF) plans to reach Kedarnath town and extricate the dead buried in the rubble and mud after the flash floods and landslides that ravaged the town.
The Union Health Ministry said that no outbreak of any water, food or air-borne disease has been reported from flood-affected areas so far. The Ministry also said that teams have been sent to all 13 districts of the state to monitor the situation.
Numbers tell a lot
Nearly 1,489 pilgrims were on Sunday taken to safety from Badrinath - 874 by air and 615 by road - an Uttarakhand government official said, adding only 300 pilgrims and 600 locals remained in the holy town with adequate food and medical care.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has put the figures at 1,500 stranded and 1,800 missing, though its vice chairman admits the toll could be much higher.
According to reports, even as the rescue missions are nearing completion, there is still no clarity over the number of people killed with casualty figures ranging from hundreds to thousands.
Close to 1.1 lakh people have been rescued so far, the state government officials claim.
Goods and food
Despite the odds being faced by the administration in transporting relief material to affected people with around 50 percent of the roads still damaged, free of cost foodgrains and other essential commodities are being provided to the affected villages cut-off from the roads in helicopters, said an official statement.
Kerosene is also being made available to the people of affected areas on subsidised rates. Out of the 4200 cut-off of villages or habitations, 2865 have been restored so far, it said.
While efforts are on bring the flood-hit state back to normalcy, a blame game has also started over accusations that the Uttarakhand government ignored the Met department's warning about heavy rains and landslides and took no preventive measures to save people.
With inputs from PTI