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HT Correspondents, Hindustan Times
Dehradun/New Delhi, June 22, 2013
Former Union home secretary and National Disaster Management Authority member VK Duggal’s job as nodal officer will be to ensure smoother relief and rescue operations in Uttarakhand. The state administration, air force, army, ITBP and other paramilitary forces have been carrying out rescue operations after disaster struck on June 15. But their coordination was found wanting necessitating Duggal’s role, Union home minister Sushil Kumar Sinde said.

Shinde played down the issue of declaring the disaster a national calamity. “Our priority is providing relief to and rescuing the stranded,” he said in a joint briefing with Uttarakhand CM Vijay Bahuguna and his Rajasthan counterpart Ashok Gehlot.

Shinde also said no VIP or VVIP apart from Bahuguna would be allowed to use choppers to and from the disaster zones as it would affect rescue operations.

He denied it was a move to prevent Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi from capitalising on the disaster.