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Uttarakhand

Three months after floods, prayers resume at Kedarnath temple

Prayers resume at Kedarnath Temple
 
Nearly three months after flash floods and landslides wrought unprecedented destruction in many parts of Uttarakhand and killed hundreds of people, prayers resumed this morning at the Kedarnath temple, which bore the brunt of the tragedy.
 
The prayers resumed at the revered 6th century shrine, dedicated to Lord Shiva, around 0730 hours and continued till 1100 hours.
 
Rawal Bhima Shankar Ling Shivacharya, the chief priest of the temple, opened the portals of the temple and went into the sanctom sanctorum for the prayers.
 
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna was among those who could not make it to the temple for the prayers because of bad weather.
 
The temple wore a festive look today, as it was decorative flowers and reverberated with the blowing of conch shells and recital of Vedic hymns.
 
With only a part of the area around the temple cleared of debris, it will be a while before pilgrims are allowed to visit the temple.
 
The date for resumption of pilgrimage to the temple is expected to be decided at a meeting on September 30.
 
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Minor earthquake recorded in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand

 
An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale, was recorded in the Uttarkashi district late last night, the India Meteorological Department said today.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 30.9°N and longitude 78.5°E, occurred at 0005 hours today at a focal depth of 11 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Public Relations Society of India contributes for Uttrakhand flood relief

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The Public Relations Society of India (PRSI) has contributed Rs. 2 lakhs to the  Uttarakhand Chief Minister’s Relief Fund for the rehabilitation and relief activities in the areas of the state hit by the devastating floods and landslides in mid-June.
 
A cheque for the amount was handed over by PRSI national president Ajit Pathak to Uttarakhand Governor Aziz Qureshi here yesterday.
 
Dr Pathak was accompanied by  Ms Nivedita Banerjee, National Secretary Treasurer  and Ms Madhulika Burman, Chairperson, PRSI [ Dehradun Chapter]. Dr Qureshi also launchedthe new committee of the Dehradun Chapter at the function organized in Raj Bhavan.
 
The Public Relations Society of India is the apex body of public relations professionals in India, with a network of 25 chapters across the country.
 
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Govt. cancels batches 15-18 of Kailash Manasarovar Yatra 2013

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The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) today said it had decided to cancel all the remaining batches (15-18) of this year's Kailash Manasarovar Yatra in view of the situation arising out of the large-scale devastation wrought by flash floods and landslides in Uttarakhand in June.
 
"In view of continuing disruption of roads, bridges and tracks on the Kailash Manasarovar Yatra route, in the interest of safety and security of the yatris it has been decided to further cancel all remaining batches 15-18 of the Yatra-2013," an official press release from the MEA said.
 
The Ministry had, immediately after the tragedy, cancelled batches 2-10 of the pilgrimage on June 19.
 
Later, on July 8, it had announced the cancellation of batches 11-14 after a review of the situation.
 
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Uttarakhand floods: Families of 5748 missing people to receive relief

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said on Sunday that as many as 5748 people were still listed as missing after last month's flash floods which ravaged many parts of the state and the state government would now start the payment of monetary relief to their families.

Families of missing people to be paid relief: Uttarakhand CM
 
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna today said that as many as 5748 people were still listed as missing after last month's flash floods which ravaged many parts of the state and the state government would now start the payment of monetary relief to their families.
 
Talking to newspersons here, Mr Bahuguna said that the legal procedure for declaring a person dead was a separate matter.
 
He said that since these 5748 people had been reported missing and had not been found even after a month of the tragedy, the government had decided to go ahead with the disbursement of relief to the affected families.
 
The state government had earlier given out an official death toll of 560 in the floods and landslides that had followed two days of torrential rainfall on June 15-16.
 
More than a lakh people stranded in different parts of the state had been evacuated to safety by air and by land over the next many days in an unprecedented search and rescue effort by the Armed Forces, paramilitary forces and various other agencies.
 
Mr Bahuguna said that the state government would not issue death certificates yet for the missing persons and would continue its efforts to trace them.
 
At the same time, taking into account the difficulties and the grief of the affected families, the government had decided to start disbursing the relief payments.
 
The 5748 people listed as missing are from 18 states across the country, and many of them were in the state to visit the pilgrimage centres of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri when the tragedy struck.
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The Chief Minister said that if the missing persons were found, their families would have to return the money.
 
Of the total number of people missing, 924 are from Uttarakhand itself. Their families will receive Rs 1.5 lakh from the National Disaster Relief Fund, Rs 2 lakh from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund and Rs 1.5 lakh from the State Disaster Relief Fund.
 
In the case of people from other states listed as missing, their families will receive Rs 1.5 lakh from the National Disaster Relief Fund and Rs 2 lakh from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund along with payments announced by their respective state governments, he said.
 
About 2000 people from Uttar Pradesh and 1000 from Madhya Pradesh figure in the lost of those missing, along with people from Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Haryana, among other places.
 
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IAF pilots "evacuate" helicopter to safety on Thursday night in Uttarakhand

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Pilots of the Indian Air Force (IAF) flew a helicopter to safety at the Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) at Gauchar in Uttarakhand last night after there was a possibility that the aircraft could be damaged in landslides.
 
A press release from the IAF said that the pilots, who were resting at the ITBP mess at Gauchar, were woken up by whistles after a landslide warning was issued for the area last night.
 
Everyone was asked to vacate the area and the sound of stones rolling down the hill created scary rumbe.
 
The pilots realised that their helicopter, an ALH MK I parked at the ITBP helipad, was likely to be damaged in the landslide.
 
Despite the fact that it was dark and that there was a drizzle and bad weather, they decided to fly the chopper to the ALG, which was just 5-7 minutes of flight away but did not have any night aids or even basic airfield lighting.
 
Since the rules do not permit night flying in the hills, the pilots  took advice from the Task Force Commander (TFC), Air Cmde Rajesh Isser. 
 
"After speaking to them the TFC was assured of the pilots confidence and ability to undertake the task. He briefed them for the mission and simultaneously activated other pilots and ATC at Gauchar to reach the ALG with torches and use vehicle lights to provide whatever assistance they could with the available resources. 
 
"At 2355 h the helicopter started in the dark drizzling valley and negotiating the weather, successfully relocated to Gauchar ALG," the release added.
 
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Minor quakes recorded in J&K, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand

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An earthquake of slight intensity shook the Doda area of Jammu & Kashmir late last night, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 33.2°N and longitude 75.7°E, occurred at 0109 hours today at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin said.
 
Earlier, at 0018 hours today, a minor tremor, measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale, was reported from the Dibang Valley of Arunachal Pradesh. It had its epicentre at  28.8°N and 95.9°E and occurred at a depth of 10 km, the bulletin said.
 
At 2131 hours yesterday, a minor quake, of magnitude 3.2, was recorded in the Ukhimath area of Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand. It had its epicentre at  30.4°N and 79.1°E and occurred at a depth of 5 km, the bulletin said.
 
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MNRE sanctions 20,000 solar lanterns for flood-hit people of Uttarakhand

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The Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has sanctioned central financial assistance of Rs. 4.4 crore for the distribution of 20,000 solar lanterns to people in the flood-ravaged areas of Uttarakhand. 
 
The Ministry will meet the full cost of solar lanterns to be distributed, an official press release said. Each lantern costs approximately Rs. 2200. 
 
This project will be implemented by the Uttarakhand Renewable Energy Development Agency, Dehradun, it said.
 
The release said Union Minister for New & Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah had instructed his Ministry to enquire from the Uttarakhand government about the ways in which it could help the affected people.

Govt. cancels batches 11-14 of Kailash-Manasarovar Yatra 2013

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The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) today said it had decided to cancel batches 11-14 of this year's Kailash-Manasarovar Yatra after a review of the situation in Uttarakhand, many parts of which were ravaged by flash floods and landslides following torrential rains on June 15-16.
 
The Government had earlier, on June 19, cancelled batches 2 to 10 of the pilgrimage.
 
A press release from MEA said three key bridges along the yatra route at Elagad, Tawaghat and Kanjoti, which were washed away, were yet to be repaired and restored. 
 
"The State and local administrative authorities estimate that such restoration work may take upto one more month to complete. 
 
"A decision on whether Batch Nos. 15-18 will proceed on the Kailash-Manasarovar Yatra will be taken at a further review in the last week of July 2013.
 
"Those Yatris who may desire to obtain further information may kindly contact the Ministry at e-mail ID: sochina@mea.gov.in or telephone number 23014900," the release added.
 
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IMD says heavy rainfall likely at one or two places in Uttarakhand in next 48 hours

 
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has warned that heavy rainfall would occur at one or two places over Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh during the next 48 hours.
 
Large parts of Uttarakhand were devastated by flash floods and landslides tht followed torrential rain for two days on June 15-16, causing widespread destruction of lives and property.
 
In its weekly press release on the monsoon issued here yesterday, the IMD also warned that heavy to very heavy rainfall would occur at one or two places over sub-Himalayan West Bengal & Sikkim, coastal Karnataka and Kerala during the next 72 hours and over Assam & Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh during the next 48 hours.
 
It said heavy rainfall would occur at one or two places over Konkan & Goa during the next 48 hours and heavy to very heavy for subsequent 24 hours.

Minor quake recorded in Chakrata area of Uttarakhand

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.0 on the Richter scale, was recorded in the Chakrata area of Dehradun district in Uttarakhand in the early hours of today.
 
A bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 30.6°N and longitude 77.8°E, occurred at 0128 hours today at a focal depth of 9 km.
 
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Met Department says heavy rains likely at some places in Uttarakhand in next 72 hours

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The Chief Secretary of Uttarakhand has issued an advisory that the Meteorological Department had predicted that, in the coming 72 hours, there is possibility of heavy rains (70-90 mm) at some places of Chamoli and Kumaon region of the state.
 
This was especially likely in Pithoragarh, Champawat, Nainital and Udhamsingh Nagar districts, a press release from the state government said.
 
Medium rain fall (20-40 mm) is predicted at several places of Uttarakhand, the release said.
 
Chief Secretary has alerted the District Magistrates and Superintendents of Police to keep people at safe places and ensure that there is no loss of property and lives, the release said.
 
Several parts  of Uttarakand were devastated in unprecedented flash floods and landslides that followed torrential and incessant rains on June 15-16.
 
After the tragedy, there were allegations that the State Government had failed to act on warnings of heavy rains issued by the Met Department.
 
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While Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna has put the death toll at around 1000, the actual number could turn out to be much higher when the search teams manage to dig through the tonnes of debris and silt in the affected areas. More than 3000 people are officially listed as missing, many of them people from other states who were on a pilgrimage to the temples in the Himalayan state.
 
The floods also caused widespread destruction of infrastructure like roads, bridges, buildings and houses.
 
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Centre to bear cost of reconstruction of Anganwadis in flood-hit Uttarakhand

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The Union Ministry for Women and Child Development has decided to bear the full cost of reconstruction, relocation and repair of Anganwadis in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand.
 
An official press release said Minister for Women and Child Development had proposed to the Finance Minister to waive the State share for construction of Anganwadis which were destroyed or damaged by the recent floods and landslides.
 
Ms Tirath reviewed the impact of the floods on the children in the state at a meeting here today, the release said.
 
It said that the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme has a provision for construction of Anganwadis with 25% of the cost being borne by the concerned State government. There is a budget provision for construction of 20,000 Anganwadis in the current financial year. 
 
Preliminary estimates suggest that at least 30 Anganwadis and one CDPO office have been completely destroyed in the affected areas. The ICDS State Directorate has also been damaged. The present estimated additional cost will be about Rs. 1.13 lakh per Anganwadi. 
 
The full cost of reconstruction, relocation and repair of the Anganwadis that have been damaged or destroyed will be now borne by the Ministry for Women and Child Development, the release said.
 
The Minister has written to Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna regarding this waiver and requested the State authorities to assess the actual damage to the Anganwadis. 
 
The meeting also decided that Ms Kushal Singh, chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and Dr Vivek Joshi, Joint Secretary in the Ministry, would visit the affected areas in the State tomorrow to assess the impact of the calamity on children.
 
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The tragedy has left many children homeless and orphaned. The visit by Ms Singh and Mr Joshi will help the Ministry to assess the scale of this loss and extend all possible help to rehabilitate the children.
 
Several NGOs and civil society organisations such as Childline, Mountain Children Foundation and Dehradun Childline are already working for the homeless and orphaned children in the affected areas. 
 
This visit will also help to coordinate the efforts of these organizations, the release added.
 
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Govt. to seek WB, ADB aid for rebuilding flood-hit areas of Uttarakhand

 
The Union Ministry of Finance has decided to seek external assistance from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for the reconstruction of the infrastructure that was destroyed or damaged in the recent flash floods in Uttarakhand.
 
Loans from the multi-lateral development banks (MDBs) would be passed on by Government of India to the State of Uttarakhand as 90% grant and 10% loan, since it is a special category state, an official press release said.
 
Uttarakhand suffered extensive damage to physical infrastructure like roads, bridges, embankments, public buildings, houses and so on in the unprecedented flash floods and landslides that followed two days of incessant and torrential rains on June 15-16.
 
"The task of reconstruction and rebuilding the infrastructure would require huge quantum of funds," the release said.

Uttarakhand sets up reconstruction & rehabilitation authority for flood-hit areas

As the search and rescue efforts in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand are slowly being wound down, the state government today constituted the Uttarakhand Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority to take up the long and arduous task of rebuilding the lives and public and private assets destroyed by the tragedy.

Bahuguna assures rehabilitation in Uttarakhand
 
As the search and rescue efforts in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand are slowly being wound down, the state government today constituted the Uttarakhand Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority to take up the long and arduous task of rebuilding the lives and public and private assets destroyed by the tragedy.
 
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said the authority would be entrusted with the task of rehabilitation of the disaster affected persons and reconstruction of the affected areas. 
 
In an important decision, he said the State Cabinet had decided to impose a complete ban on construction of buildings, including houses and commercial establishments, on the banks of rivers in Uttarakhand.
 
Vast areas of Uttarakhand were devastated by the unprecedented flash floods and landslides that followed two days of incessant and torrential rains in the state on June 15-16.
 
Television pictures of the tragedy had shown entire buildings standing on the banks of rivers being washed away by the swirling waters of the swollen rivers.
 
Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh met Mr Bahuguna in Dehradun today and took a series of decisions with regard to the reconstruction efforts.
 
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An official press release from the state government said all cut-off villages would be given sanction under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).  In the first phase, a total road length of 500 km will be taken, which could be increased to 1000 km, if the state government asked for it.
 
The release said 14000 additional units under Indira AwasYojana, the flagship rural housing scheme, would be sanctioned and additional funds alloted under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
 
It said the Centre would look into a request by the Chief Minister for the shifting of 238 villages requiring immediate rehabilitation.
 
The meeting also decided that a comprehensive reconstruction package would be proposed to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which would send teams to visit the state soon.
 
The State Government has also announced compensation rates for those whose restaurants and hotels were destroyed or damaged in the calamity.
 
Electricity dues and water tax for the disaster affected families will be waived from June 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014.
 
Loans taken by disaster affected families from the Uttarakhand State Cooperative Bank and the District Cooperative banks will be kept in abeyance for one year. Likewise, on the loans taken by disaster affected families from nationalized banks, the Central Government would be requested to suspend the recovery of these loans for a year. This decision will be in effect for the financial year 2013-4.
 
All the affected families in villages which have been cut off would be given 15 kgs of rice, 15 kg of wheat flour, 5 kg of pulses, 3 kg of sugar, one litre of refined oil, spices, salt, match boxes and 10 litres of kerosene oil free of cost by the State Government.
 
For families with more than five members, two units of the above relief set would be provided, the release said.
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The State Government has also decided that all students of schools, intermediate colleges and ITIs would be given Rs 500 each, while those studying in polytechnic, degree colleges and other institutions will be given Rs. 1000 each.
 
Mr Bahuguna said that houses which stood on the banks of rivers and were destroyed in the disaster would be rebuilt only in strict compliance with  existing rules and regulations. The local administration will keep a close watch on all such constructions and ensure there are no violations, he said.
 
He also said that the state government would take full responsibility for the upbringing of all the children who had been orphaned in the disaster.
 
It was also decided that the relief amount for sugarcane will be 50% more than the compensation/relief of the normal crops, the release added.
 
The official death count in the tragedy has been put at 560 by the State Government, but Mr Bahuguna has said in the past few days that the number could be around 1000.
 
He also said yesterday that the number of missing people was around 3000 and they were yet to be accounted for.
 
He has also said that the death toll could rise once the rescue and relief teams dig through the tonnes of debris and silt in the areas ravaged by the floods.
 
Mr Ramesh said the decision to set up an authority for recontruction and rehabilitation was a progressive step that would inspire confidence among the people.
 
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He said the authority would, among other things, ensure transparency in the utilisation of the funds received by the state government from the Centre and other sources for the reconstruction of the affected areas.
 
Over the past two weeks, the search and rescue teams have evacuated more than a lakh stranded people from the affected areas and only some small numbers are still awaiting evacuation.
 
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Uttarakhand floods: Bahuguna says 3000 missing, exact toll may never be known

As search and rescue operations in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand reached the final phase, Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna on Sunday put the number of people reported missing at around 3000 and said the exact number of those killed in the tragedy might never be known.

Bahuguna Assures Compensation To Families Of Victims In Uttarakhand Flood
 
As search and rescue operations in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand reached the final phase, Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna today put the number of people reported missing at around 3000 and said the exact number of those killed in the tragedy might never be known.
 
"After taking into account the reports of missing persons in different parts of the state, I have been told that the number of those missing is around 3,000," he told newspersons.
 
He said that the Government would pay compensation to the next-of-kin of those missing once they report the details of the missing people to the authorities.
 
He said the Government would wait for a month for the missing people to return or be located. If they remain missing after that the Government would pay the compensation to the next-of-kin if they give an affidavit, he said.
 
In the case of people from other states, he said the Uttarakhand Government had told other State Governments that the Chief Secretaries must verify the claims and send a report to Uttarakhand, which would then send the compensation to the Chief Secretaries after waiting for a month for the missing people to return.
 
On the final death toll, he was quoted as saying in media reports that the exact number of those who died or those who had been buried under the silt or washed away by the floods might never be known.
 
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State Assembly Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal had yesterday said that the death toll could be around 10,000, but Mr Bahuguna had later said that the figure was not correct. He said the State Government was trying to establish the loss of lives on a scientific basis.
 
The State Government, meanwhile, maintained the official death toll at 560, but Mr Bahuguna has himself said that the figure was around 1000.
 
He said the official death toll was based on the number of bodies found in Kedarnath and other areas. The final figures could be estimated only when the rescue and relief teams dig through the debris and silt in all the affected areas.
 
Meanwhile, the process of cremating the bodies is continuing, and an official statement said that 94 bodies had been cremated so far. Before the cremation, DNA samples of all the victims are being collected.
 
Official sources said about 400 people were still stranded at different places as of yesterday evening. But they also pointed out that many people would remain at Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri till the doors of the respective "dhams are closed for the winter in the second or third week of November.
 
In all, about 3119 people had suffered injuries in the flash floods and landslides that devastated many parts of the state following incessant and torrential rains on June 15-16.
 
About 1335 villages are still cut off, and efforts were being made to establish connectivity with them at the earliest.
 
The sources said that, as of yesterday, 108,253 people had been evacuated by air and by land by the search and rescue teams, which included personnel of the Army, the Indian Air Force (IAF), the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the Indo-Tibetan Border police and various state government and voluntary agencies.
 
Meanwhile, a team from the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is in the state to assess the public health situation and provide assistance to the State Government.
 
As many as 40 chloroscopes and a large quantity of reagents have been sent for testing of water samples, to ensure safe drinking water supplies. 
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Teams from NIMHANS, Bangalore are in the State to provide psycho-social support for the survivors. Teams of cardiologists, medical specialists and psychiatrists have also been sent from Central Government hospitals.
 
Three truck loads of medicines from Central Hospitals have been dispatched and received by the State health authorities for onward distribution. 
 
The Centre is also sending chlorine tablets, bleaching powder and oral rehyderation solution (ORS) packets to the affected areas.
 
An official press release said no outbreak of water borne, food borne or air borne or direct contact diseases had been reported from the affected areas.
 
The Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) has provided seven truckloads of relief material that includes tents, family packs, kitchen sets, blankets, lanterns and so on.
 
As many as 1100 bags for carrying bodies have been arranged through IRCS and an additional 500 bags procured by the Ministry have also been sent to the state.
 
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Search, rescue efforts in flood-hit Uttarakhand move into final phase

As search and rescue operations in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand moved into the final phase, state government sources in Dehradun said on Saturday that all stranded pilgrims from Harshil, Matli, Bhatwari and Maneri had been evacuated.


 
Dramatic visuals of rescue operation from Gaula River
As search and rescue operations in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand moved into the final phase, state government sources in Dehradun said today that all stranded pilgrims from Harshil, Matli, Bhatwari and Maneri had been evacuated.
 
Rescue operations were going on in Badrinath but were hampered by inclement weather, they said.
 
The state government has placed the number of dead at 560, though Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna has said it could be around a thousand and other officials have expressed fears that the figure could be much higher.
 
In fact, Uttarakhand Assembly Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal, who toured some of the affected areas, told journalists today that the toll could be as high as 10,000.
 
He said that he had made this estimate on the basis of what he had seen during his tour as well as on the information about finding of bodies and the accounts given to him by various people.
 
But Mr Bahuguna said these estimates were not correct and pointed out that the state government was trying to establish the loss of lives on a scientific basis.
 
The Uttarakhand government has put the number of people listed as missing at 1800 and said efforts were being made to locate them.
 
More than 105600 stranded people have been evacuated from the affected areas since flash floods and landslides caused widespread devastation in many parts of the state following torrential rains on June 15-16.
 
Though exact counts were difficult to come by, several hundred people were still awaiting evacuation from some of the affected areas, the sources said.
 
More than 27 helicopters were involved in the relief efforts today and air-dropped food material and other essential supplies, including medicines, in  Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Uttarkashi, Bageshwar and Pithoragarh districts.
 
For providing relief, base camps have been set up at Gauchar, Matli and Joshimath. From these points the relief material will be distributed by air to all the affected villages, they said.
 
The sources said that, in the next three days, it would be ensured that there would be no food shortage in any of the affected villages.
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Till road connectivity is restored, the District Magistrates have been provided with helicopters to ensure that connectivity to affected villages is ensured.  
 
These choppers will take supplies to the affected villages and also airlift ill or old people requiring medical attention.  They will also airlift all those people who have some important commitments like interviews, examinations and so on.
 
Army and civilian helicopters will operate for the next one month to give air connectivity to affected villages.  
 
Meanwhile, the cremation of the bodies of those who had died in the disaster continued in Kedarnath, the worst-hit area. Medical teams are taking DNA samples of the bodies before the cremation is done.
 
Efforts are being made on a war-footing to reopen all the damaged roads and restore power and water supply to all the affected villages and hamlets.
 
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Shinde reviews Uttarakhand flood relief operations

Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde with Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna and the Chief of Army Staff, General Bikram Singh, paying tributes to the IAF, NDRF and ITBP personnel who were killed in the recent helicopter crash in Uttarakhand, at a ceremony, in Dehradun on June 28, 2013.
Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde with Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna and the Chief of Army Staff, General Bikram Singh, paying tributes to the IAF, NDRF and ITBP personnel who were killed in the recent helicopter crash in Uttarakhand, at a ceremony, in Dehradun on June 28, 2013.
Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde held a meeting with Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna and senior officials in Dehradun today to review the search and rescue efforts in the flood-ravaged state and plan for the enormous task of restoration and rehabilitation that now lies ahead.
 
The meeting decided that all the Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters involved in the rescue operations would remain stationed in the state for the next 15 days for providing food and other necessities to the villages which continue to remain cut off.
 
Mr Bahuguna has said that the death toll was about 1000 and could rise once the search teams dig through the silt and rubble in the affected districts, especially in Kedarnath, which bore the brunt of the flash floods and landslides which followed two days of torrential rains on June 15-16.
 
Official sources said that, for removing the debris and cleansing the vicinity of Kedarnath temple, JCB machines would be carried to the spot by helicopters.
 
A medical team from the Central government has been deployed to ensure that there is no outbreak of any contagious diseases in the affected area.
 
The sources said efforts were being made on a war footing to evacuate the remaining stranded people in Badrinath, estimated at about 800.
 
As the major part of the task of evacuating people from the affected areas has been completed, the Army, the ITBP, NDRF and other agencies wil comb the area in the coming days to ensure that no one is left behind.
 
While in Dehradun, Mr Shinde attended a ceremony at GTC ground to honour the 20 men of the Air Force, NDRF and ITBP who had died when an IAF helicopter crashed while on a rescue mission in the state.
 
Mr Bahuguna, Union Tourism Minister K Chiranjeevi, former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri and Chief of Army Staff Gen Bikram Singh were also present.
 
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Rescue efforts in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand hit by bad weather

Search and rescue teams managed to evacuate about 1500 stranded people from different parts of flood-ravaged Uttarakhand on Thursday before bad weather forced them to call off the efforts for the dayin places such as Badrinath.

Army personnel helping to evacuate people near the Pindari glacier in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand on June 26, 2013.
Search and rescue teams managed to evacuate about 1500 stranded people from different parts of flood-ravaged Uttarakhand today before bad weather forced them to call off the efforts for the day in places such as Badrinath.
 
Meanwhile, amid fears of the outbreak of an epidemic, the authorities have begun the mass cremation of bodies of the victims in Kedarnath, which bore the brunt of the flash floods and landslides in the hill state that followed two days of torrential rains on June 15-16.
 
Before cremating the bodies, Uttarakhand government officials are taking DNA samples from them to enable the identification of the victims.
 
With the floods having also taken a heavy toll of cattle and other animals, the authorities have warned people in the affected areas to avoid consuming river water as it could be polluted.
 
The authorities fear that the death toll, currently estimated at around 1000, could rise when the search and rescue teams begin clearing the silt and debris in the affected areas.
 
They also expect to find more bodies in remote areas where the rescue teams have not been able to reach so far.
 
Official sources here said an Indian Air Force (IAF) C 130J aircraft from the Hindon airbase near here undertook a weather recce of the flood-hit areas early this morning before the helicopters stationed in the area began their sorties.
 
Operating from Dharasu, Mi 17 V5 helicopters flew about 58 sorties airlifting about 593 persons from Harsil and Maneri to Dharasu uptil 1530 hours before bad weather interrupted the operations.
 
For the helicopters operating from Gauchar, weather affected the operations till 1000 hours, after which flying to Badrinath commenced and about 600 people were evacuated from there till 1500 hours, before bad weather was again encountered.
 
Operating from Simla where helicopter operations commenced at 0900 hours,  26 sorties were flown airlifting about 111 passengers, including seven injured persons.
 
In all, the IAF airlifted 1304 people in 84 sorties upto 4 pm today and landed about 4600 kg of relief material.
 
Uttarakhand toll likely to increase after clearance of 10 feet debris
Since June 17, the IAF in Operation Rahat has airlifted a total of 14,748 persons, flying a total of 1703 sorties and dropping or landing a total of 2,52,610 kg of relief material and equipment, the sources said.
 
The sources said all the pilgrims had been evacuated from Harsil, leaving only 100 to 150 locals to be moved out from there.
 
In Badrinath, all able-bodied and willing people were motivated by the Army to undertake the journey upto Joshimath by a combination of foot and vehicles. Of the journey, 12 km is by foot and the remaining 31 km is being undertaken by vehicles.
 
The sources said 900 people have set out on foot and 244 have already reached Joshimath, while the rest are on their way and are expected to reach there by tonight.
 
Evacuation is also on in Pithoragarh district of Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. About 100 people were evacuated from isolated and cut-off places and were brought to Dharchula where they were given food, water and medical aid by the Army. 
 
The sources said the Hemkund axis has been totally cleared of all pilgrims. 
 
An Army veterinary team returned to Joshimath today after providing medical assistance to stranded animals and mules between Govindghat and Ghagria. 
 
Animal rations and veterinary medicines were also rushed to Gauri Kund for use by local people for their stranded live stock. 
 
The Army constructed another temporary foot bridge at Sonprayag for use by local population. 
 
In Dehradun, the State Government said more than 102600 people had been evacuated from the affected areas since the tragedy struck.
 
State Government sources said that connectivity to 1636 villages, out of the 2375 affected, had been restored. Electricity had been restored in 2249 hamlets and habitations. Two power stations -- Galogi and Badrinath-II -- have been restored.
 
They said water supply had been restored in Badrinath , Pandukeshwar , Govinghat , Ghangria , Joshimath, Gopeshwar , Gauchar, Rudraprayag , Phata , Agaytsamuni , Srinagar , Uttarkashi and various other places.  
 
More than 2000 personnel from the water supply department are working day and night to restore water supply in all the affected areas. More than 816 water supply schemes have been restored, they said.
 
The sources said arrangements had been made to ensure adequate supplies of food, cooking fuel, medicines, petrol, diesel and other essential commodities in all the affected areas.
 
President Pranab Mukherjee called up Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna to enquire about the status of rescue and relief operations. He also expressed his condolence at the death of personnel involved in the search and rescue efforts.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Pithoragarh region of Uttarakhand

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale, shook the Pithoragarh region of Uttarakhand today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 30.1°N and longitude 80.4°E, occurred at 1150 hours at a focal depth of 4 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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PM talks to Air Chief about Uttarakhand rescue, relief efforts

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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh talked to the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshall N A K Browne, today to extend his condolences to the families of the Air Force personnel who lost their lives in a helicopter crash during the rescue and relief operations in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand. 
 
The Prime Minister said that he had full confidence in the force and its capability to overcome this tragedy and continue the arduous task in Uttarakhand. 
 
"Your men have done heroic work in treacherous circumstances and saved thousands of lives," Dr Singh told the Air Chief.
 
"The country is grateful to the members of the Armed Forces for their selfless and determined effort in helping the people in the aftermath of the disaster," he  added. 
 
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Bad weather continues to hamper relief efforts in Uttarakhand

Bad weather continues to hamper rescue operation in Uttarakhand
Bad weather continued to hamper the relief efforts in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand today, but the search and rescue teams still managed to move about 3000 stranded people by air and by road from the affected areas to safety.
 
A day after an Indian Air Force (IAF) Mi-17 V5 helicopter crashed during a rescue mission in the state yesterday, killing all 20 people on board, the IAF flew 64 sorties today to evacuate 636 persons despite the bad weather.
 
Those killed in the mishap include five members of crew of the IAF, nine personnel from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).
 
Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne, who made a morale-boosting visit to meet his men in Uttarakhand today, said the rescue efforts would continue till all the stranded people were evacuated.
 
A total of 44 IAF aircraft have been deployed for the rescue and relief efforts in the region. The operations in the Shimla region were continuing till late in the evening.
 
The Army today evacuated 2000 stranded persons from Badrinath through the bridge at Pandukeshwar and another 444 persons by air. It is estimated that there are 2750 people remaining to be evacuated from Badrinath.
 
From the Harsil area, about 600 persons were evacuated, while some 540 are still waiting to be moved out.
 
The Army did a recce of the Jungle Chatti area today but did not find any more stranded people.
 
A total of 8000 troops have been deployed in the area and a total of 28,300 persons have been evacuated by the Army till date, an official press release said.
 
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In Delhi, Union Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth chaired a meeting of the National Crisis Management Committee this evening to review the rescue and relief operations.
 
The release said the cremation procedure for bodies had been started in Kedarnath by the Uttarakhand government.
 
It said the ITBP had evacuated 400 persons by 3 pm today, taking the total number of people of people evacuated by the para-military force to nearly 31,000.
 
The Border Roads Organization was able to open the road up to 30 km beyond Uttar Kashi. The road from Srinagar to Rudra Prayag and Joshi Math has also been cleared. The road up to km 6 from Kedarnath to Augustya Muni has been operationalised. 
 
The release said the bridge at Lambagarh near Joshimath was opened to enable people to cross over. 
 
But the bridge at Son Prayag could not be operationalised as the rainfall resulted in sharp increase in the water flow of the river. Another bridge is being set up at a location nearby and is likely to be operationalised by tomorrow morning.
 
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Chiranjeevi sanctions Rs 100 crore for rebuilding tourist infrastructure in Uttarakhand

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Union Minister of Tourism K Chiranjeevi today sanctioned a special financial package of Rs. 100 crore for restoration and reconstruction of the Government tourist facilities destroyed or damaged in the recent flash floods which devastated large parts of Uttarakhand.
 
This will be in addition to the Central financial assistance of about Rs. 95 crore already sanctioned during the current financial year for developing tourism infrastructure in the State, an official press release said.
 
The State Government has been advised to assess the destroyed and damaged tourist amenities and conveniences and come back with the requirement of funds for rebuilding the infrastructure. On examination of the demand, Ministry of Tourism will sanction funds, it said.

Mukherjee condoles loss of lives in helicopter crash

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President Pranab Mukherjee today condoled the loss of lives in the crash of an Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter in Uttarakhand yesterday while it was on a rescue mission in the flood-ravaged state.
 
All 20 people on board -- five members of crew from the IAF, nine personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and five of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) -- were killed in the mishap.
 
“In this moment of grief, I offer my most profound condolences to the grieving families of the victims. I salute the courage and supreme sacrifice of the heroes who laid down their lives in the line of duty," the President, who is also the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, said in a message to Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne.
 
"I am proud of the exemplary manner in which the IAF has responded to the challenge of rescuing and saving thousands of lives in the face of the fury of nature and at a time of grave crisis. The IAF’s determination to 'keep moving on' irrespective of the tragedy and until the last stranded pilgrim is rescued is in the finest traditions of the Indian Armed Forces. 
 
"Please inform the brave Air Warriors engaged in operations in Uttarakhand that my thoughts and prayers are with them. Kindly also convey my sincere words of sympathy to the families of the deceased personnel. I pray to the Almighty to give the bereaved families the strength and fortitude to bear this irreparable loss," Mr Mukherjee added.
 
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Uttarakhand helicopter crash: All 20 on board killed, says Air Chief

Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne said on Wednesday that all 20 people on board an Mi-17 V5 helicopter of the Indian Air Force, which crashed while on a rescue mission in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand on Tuesday, had been killed.

Mi-17 cockpit voice recorder found, all 20 on board dead: IAF chief
 
Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne said today that all 20 people on board an Mi-17 V5 helicopter of the Indian Air Force (IAF), which crashed while on a rescue mission in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand yesterday, had been killed.
 
He told journalists at Dehradun that those killed included five crew members from the IAF, nine personnel from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and six from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).
 
The crash underlined the search and rescue teams are facing in the difficult terrain and bad weather in the state, many parts of which were devastated by flash floods and landslides that followed torrential rains on June 15-16.
 
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna has said that at least a thousand people had died in the floods. The toll is likely to go up further after rescue and relief teams are able to dig through the rubble and silt and make an estimate of the losses inflicted by the calamity.
 
Air Chief Marshal Browne said the mishap occurred around 2 pm yesterday when the Russian-made helicopter was flying from Gauchar to Guptkashi and Kedarnath. It crashed north of Gaurikud while it was on the return leg from Kedarnath.
 
He said that the helicopter was not flying alone but was actually a part of three helicopters, flying ten minutes apart, on that route.
 
He said as soon as news of the crash was received, the IAF sent a team of seven commandos who slithered down and searched the scene of the accident and reported that there were no survivors.
 
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The Air Chief said the cause of the crash was yet to be ascertained. The cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder had been recovered from the site of the crash and their analysis in the coming days would throw some light on what went wrong and whether it was caused by bad weather or a technical problem.
 
He said that, in the mountains and especially during the monsoon, the weather was always an issue and which was not going to go away. "We have to deal with it," he said.
 
He also said that the operational risk factors were monitored on a daily basis during such rescue operations and the final decisions are always taken by the people on the spot. He said teams often returned to base, without carrying out the mission, because of bad weather and set out again when the conditions improved.
 
"Our people are highly qualified, and we leave the decision to them. Our men take calculated risks, that is their job," he said.
 
He was also all praise for the efforts made by the search and rescue teams, including personnel of the Armed Forces, the NDRF, the ITBP and various state government agencies to rescue and provide relief for the victims of the floods.
 
The NDRF and ITBP personnel on board the ill-fated chopper were returning from Kedarnath, which had borne the brunt of the tragedy.
 
Air Chief Marshal Browne also said that the rescue operations would continue till all the stranded people were brought to safety. That, he said, would be the best tribute to those who had lost their lives in yesterday's crash. He said that if the rescue teams got three or four days of good weather they would be able to complete their task.
 
"The operations are going to continue. In fact, most of the work has already been done. It is now a question of getting the people out from Badrinath and the Harsil sectors," he said.
 
The Uttarakhand Government declared one day's state mourning today for those killed in the crash. Mr Bahuguna announced an amount of Rs 10 lakh for the next of kin of those killed and free education for their children in the state.
 
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