press trust of india
Dehradun, 7 July
With incessant rains over the last two days hampering relief operations in Uttarakhand, the state government today geared up to requisition choppers which can be flown even in bad weather to take food supplies to affected areas in Rudraprayag, Uttarkashi and Chamoli districts.
As the network of major roads in the districts are still damaged making it impossible for the administration to transport trucks carrying relief to affected villages especially the ones totally cut off, weather resistant choppers are the only option left for the authorities to ensure food supplies to villages facing foodgrain shortage, an official said.
The state Disaster Management and Mitigation Department will hold an emergency meeting today to discuss how choppers capable of flying even in bad weather can be pressed into service.  The team of experts dispatched to Kedarghati for removal of debris and disposal of bodies is also finding it difficult to carry out the exercise due to wet weather and lack of heavy equipment, official sources here said.
The lightweight equipment provided by the NDRF is proving inadequate to remove tonnes of debris in Kedarghati under which bodies may still be lying, they said.  Paucity of foodstuff for personnel engaged in the exercise at the high altitude shrine has further complicated their task, they said. The food stocks at the Himalayan shrine are fast running out and some of the personnel engaged in the operation are also reported to be sick.
A 13-member police team trying to tear its way through heaps of debris lying on the roads to Kedarnath had to return from Rambada to Gaurikund as it could not go further. Fresh spell of rains in Kedarghati over the past two days have instilled fear among residents of villages adjoining the shrine with waters of Mandakini and Alaknanda constantly on the rise.
Relief material could not be transported to affected villages in Kedarghati over the past three days due to bad weather. Administration claims that relief material has been distributed in 36 villages of Rudraprayag but the number of affected villages in the district is 128 which means 80 more villages are immediately in need of relief.
Relief choppers could not operate even in Chamoli, Pithoragarh and Uttarkashi districts due to inclement weather compounding the problems of affected people as well as those of police personnel engaged in relief work. It is also being considered to recall the team sent to Kedarnath for removal of debris and disposal of bodies and replace it with a new one, an official here said.
Meanwhiule, as the country comes to terms with the rain-induced destruction in Uttarakhand, the government is firming up plans to have a robust forecast model and augment mountain weather and climate monitoring with real time observations.  The initiative will see the installation of doppler radar in Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim. The enhanced observation system along with high resolution numerical models will be executed in partnership with the Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment of the DRDO.
Taking a cue from the Uttarakhand tragedy, the NDMA is all set to formulate a new set of guidelines to ensure protection of heritage structures from onslaught of earthquakes and floods.