Rain returned to Uttarakhand on Monday hitting air operations and blocking roads, hampering rescuers who could only evacuate 1,000 people through the day. The weather is expected to worsen on Tuesday, with heavy and widespread rains predicted for the state.
Rain in Dehradun and neighbouring areas didn’t allow helicopters to evacuate stranded flood victims from Kedarnath valley and Harsil near Gangotri. More than 8,000 people are still stuck across the state, a week after monsoon fury led to unprecedented destruction.
The state could be facing another danger — its overflowing dams. The Central Water Commission's latest report says water levels of Tehri and Ramganga dams are 449% above normal. With more rain, the gates will have to be opened to discharge excess water and this could flood downstream areas.
“About 5,000 people are yet to be evacuated from Badrinath and not even a single chopper has been able to take off from Sahasradhara helipad here,” Wing Commander (retd) Capt RS Brar, who is overseeing air rescue, said.
However, the rain-marred rescue efforts saw around 1,000 people being evacuated from different areas including the Himalayan shrine in Chamoli district and the Gangotri valley, chief secretary Subhash Kumar said. Rain washed away two critical roads in Rudraprayag, hitting traffic movement towards Tehri.
Drones in rescue act
“Airlifting will remain impaired on Tuesday as well as helicopters are unlikely to make sorties as rain is predicted across the state, with heavy rain in Uttarkashi and some parts of Chamoli,” said Anand Sharma, director, meterological department.
Houses and shops were flooded after cloudburst at Paithani and nearby villages in Pauri district. No loss of life was reported.Even as focus remains on rescue, the National Disaster Management Authority’s pointsman VK Duggal told the state government not to forget the dead.
The slow pace of disposing of the bodies is causing concern as it can lead to outbreak of an epidemic. A team of doctors that was to collect the DNA samples of the dead couldn’t reach Augustmuni in Rudraprayag district because of rains.
The state plans to collect the DNA samples before performing the final rites. The plan to start cremation of bodies strewn around Kedarnath shrine also could not be go ahead due to rain, the chief secretary said.