Union Home Minister Amit Shah undertook an aerial survey of the rain-ravaged areas of Uttarakhand on Thursday as relief and rescue operations continued in the worst-hit Kumaon region amid efforts to restore connectivity and evacuate people from vulnerable areas. Accompanied by Uttarakhand Governor Lt Gen (retd) Gurmit Singh, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, Union Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt, and state Disaster Management Minister Dhan Singh Rawat, Shah left for an aerial survey of the affected areas in a helicopter from the GTC helipad.
Incessant rains in the state have caused damages worth Rs 7,000 crore, Dhami who has been touring the affected areas since Tuesday told reporters at the Pantnagar Airport. Restoring the network of damaged roads and bridges at the earliest and evacuating people to safety is the priority at the moment, he said.
Meanwhile, the toll in rain-related incidents in the state has risen to 64 while more than 15 people are injured and five still missing, the state Emergency Operation Centre said in its latest report. Nainital district has reported maximum number of 28 deaths.
Due to the heavy downpour and flooding of the Naini lake, the area around Dhobi Ghat in Nainital is experiencing major landslides, District Magistrate Dhiraj Singh Garbiyal said. This area is right at the base of Nainital and is believed to be the foundation of the town. About 100 families living in Dhobi Ghat have been shifted, he said. Garbiyal said relief camps have been set up at a number of places.
Authorities say that the death toll could rise as people may be trapped under debris. According to the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), over 1,300 people have now been evacuated.
The Indian Army's three helicopters have been deployed for rescue operations while state and national disaster response forces have already been pressed for relief and rescue operations.
According to NDRF officials, 15 self contained teams have been deployed in the state. Out of these, six teams have been stationed in Udham Singh Nagar district while two teams each are placed at Uttarkashi and Chamoli and one team each at Dehradun, Pithoragarh and Haridwar. Similarly, one full team is also deployed in Nainital while one sub team is stationed at Almora.
Meanwhile, the Char Dham Yatra, which was halted due to incessant rain in the region, has resumed today. "Chardham Yatra has resumed with the opening of route for small/light vehicles to Badrinath Dham. Road route to Ramgarh and Mukteshwar from Nainital also operational now," Uttarakhand DGP Ashok Kumar said.