Press Trust of India
DEHRADUN, 21 JULY: Air relief operations in flood-hit areas of Uttarakhand today speeded up as weather cleared in most places of the state, where the government has finally prepared a roadmap for clearing ton of debris and extricating bodies still trapped underneath the rubble at Kedarnath and adjoining areas.
Nearly 8,000 quintals of food material were taken to affected areas in the worst-hit Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Uttarkashi and Pithoragarh districts in choppers and on mules wherever possible but major roads are still blocked by debris falling over from the hills due to intermittent rains, official sources here said.
Rishikesh-Gangotri NH in Uttarkashi is blocked by debris in Netala whereas Rishikesh-Kedarnath NH is obstructed in Naulapani, Silli and Rampur.
However, all out efforts were on to put life back on track in flood-hit areas with the BRO having succeeded in building a temporary bridge over the Alaknanda near Govindghat to evacuate over 1,000 horses and mules stuck along with their operators in Phoolon ki ghati area ever since the bridge over the river was swept away after the June flashfloods.
Tilwada-Mayali-Guptkashi and Gopeshwar-Chopta roads in Rudraprayag district are also blocked for the last few days.
A roadmap for clearing tonnes of debris lying in Kedarghati and extricating bodies from under them was worked out at a meeting of GSI experts, Engineering Projects (India) Limited (EPIL) top brass and IAF officials with Chief Secretary Subhash Kumar and DGP Satyavrat Bansal here yesterday.
It was decided that the services of EPIL will be taken to carry out the massive exercise hampered so far by bad weather and lack of heavy equipment, official sources said today.
A team of EPIL professionals and GSI experts will soon conduct an aerial recce of Kedarghati to explore how a base camp and a helipad could be built at the Himalayan shrine where MI-26 helicopters are to be flown to transport heavy equipment needed to clear the huge quantity of debris lying all over the temple premises, an exercise hampered so far due to lack of proper machines and bad weather.
EPIL, which has a 500-strong team of dedicated professionals with expertise in debris removal, was roped in by the state government to undertake the mammoth exercise after its own teams consisting of medical experts, police, PWD and NDRF personnel failed to make much headway despite being stationed there for nearly a fortnight amid bad weather.
As per the roadmap, the EPIL will scientifically carry out the exercise at the shrine which bore the brunt of the recent calamity in the hill state.
The task is mammoth considering the huge quantity of debris containing big boulders lying at Kedarnath, Gaurikund and Rambada but with scientific expertise provided by the GSI and ASI the operation is likely to be carried out successfully by EPIL personnel, Chief secretary Subhash Kumar said.
Officials from the civil administration and police personnel will also assist in the exercise which also entails razing to the ground 48 badly damaged structures in Kedar valley, he said.
Heavy equipment like dozers, dumpers and rock breakers loaded in trucks have been dispatched from Delhi for the purpose, EPIL CMD SPS Bakshi who attended the meeting said. The heavy mechanical equipment will be dismantled on their arrival here and transported in MI26 aircraft to Kedarnath where they will be reassembled before being put into service, he said.