sns & ians
DEHRA DUN/SHIMLA, 20 JUNE: The government today said a total of 33,192 people, stranded due to floods in Uttarakhand, were rescued and helicopters ~ privately owned and belonging to the Army and Air Force ~ carried out 90 sorties, airlifting people.
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), the home ministry release said, rescued 654 and 1,800 people respectively. NDRF also recovered 17 dead bodies. The toll had gone up to 72, the Uttarakhand government said.
According to the home ministry statement, a total of 50,422 pilgrims were still stranded at various places. Seventeen helicopters of the Army and Air Force were involved in the rescue effort, and 11 private ones.
Facing all odds and fighting with the tough geographical condition, the Air Force and the Army are trying their best to rescue those stranded in the state.
After the total evacuation of Kedarnath, the rescue teams are now working to save the people stranded in Gaurigaon and Jungle Chatti near Kedarnath. The 400 people rescued from Kedarnath are being shifted to Gupt Kashi. About 5,000 people are still stranded in Gaurigaon, Jungle Chatti, Rambara, Dhemalpani and other areas on a 14-km trek from Kedarnath to Gaurikund. The highway from Uttarkashi to Rishikesh has been opened. Tourists are being rescued from here through Gairsain and Kumaon and camped at Joshimath. The road from Joshimath to Vishnuprayag has also been cleared but the roads at Govindghat, Panduk-eshwar etc. till Badrinath are all damaged. Sources claim that about 7,000 people are still stranded in Badrinath.
The Supreme Court today directed the Centre and the Uttarakhand government to make all-out efforts to rescue the stranded.
A Bench of Justice A K Patnaik and Justice Ranjan Gogoi directed the governments to deploy sufficient number of helicopters for rescue operations.
“We direct as an interim measure that all stranded people be provided immediate relief by the state and district authorities by giving them food, medicines and other essential things, including fuel,” the Bench said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Delhi today issued an appeal to the public for generous donations to support the victims who have suffered “extensive devastation”.
Polling for the Mandi parliamentary by-poll in landslide-hit Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh, which has been cut off from the rest of the state for five days, is likely to be rescheduled, an official said here today.

No Kedar-Badri pilgrimage for 3 years
DEHRA DUN, 20 JUNE: Pilgrimage to the shrines of Kedarnath and Badrinath in Uttarakhand cannot resume for three years due to extensive damage caused by heavy rains and floods, an official said today. Officials of the two shrines said the two places have been so badly devastated that there was nothing "but mud, devastation and death" around the highly revered temples visited by millions. ians