Dehradun, July 23: Accusing the Bahuguna government of being in a "state of slumber" even after the June calamity, former Chief Minister B C Khanduri today said hundreds of precious lives could have been saved if the authorities had responded to the situation in time.
"First the state government ignored the MeT office warnings of heavy rains on June 14 and then it slept over the tragedy, which occurred on June 17, leaving hundreds of helpless pilgrims to fend for themselves and perish," he told reporters here on his return from a visit to the affected areas.
Citing accounts of eyewitnesses to the deluge in Kedarghati which was the worst hit, the BJP leader said for several days after the tragedy struck, pilgrims continued to run uphill in search of shelter to save themselves, which was a wrong thing to do.
Vijay Bahuguna inside the flood-hit Kedarnath
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna inside the flood-hit Kedarnath Temple on Monday.
Vijay Bahuguna at a visit to the flood-hit Kedarnath
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna at a visit to the flood-hit Kedarnath Temple on Monday.
Uttarakhand CM Vijay Bahuguna presenting cheques to the kins of flood victims in Rudraprayag on Saturday.
Har ki Paudi for the victims of the recent floods
Uttarakhand CM Vijay Bahuguna along with other leaders performing a 'puja' at Har ki Paudi for the victims of the recent floods rains, in Haridwar on Tuesday.
Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna and Congress incharge for Uttarakhand Ambika Soni at a press conference in Dehradun.
"There was no arrangement by the state government for several days after the tragedy to stop stranded pilgrims unaware of the geography of the area from doing so and guide them to safety. This led to many more deaths, especially in Kedar valley which was the worst hit," Kahnduri said.
"If a state of emergency was declared and the government machinery had sprung into action immediately after the calamity, damage to life and property could have been much less than it actually was," he said.