The Uttarakhand government would provide additional funds and equipment to district magistrates, besides allowing them to engage more manpower, to boost rescue and relief works in the state reeling under the rain-induced disaster, chief minister Harish Rawat said on Sunday.
The State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) would be provided two additional companies to speed up its operations, Rawat told a group of media persons, adding that district magistrates would be permitted to deploy the SDRF personnel wherever required.
The chief minister also announced the cancellation of all holidays of officials in view of the natural disasters. “Barring cases where it would be unavoidable, no official would be allowed to avail leave,” he said.
Rawat also said officials had been directed not to take more than four hours to rescue people stranded en route to the Char Dham and other areas falling in the twin disaster-hit districts Pithoragarh and Chamoli. Most decisions, he said, were taken in response to the demands put up by the DMs of all the 13 districts at a videoconferencing.
Rawat said more earth movers would be supplied to all the districts so that the roads blocked by the rain-induced landslides could be cleared fast.
He said more funds would be provided to district magistrates to speed up the relief and rescue operations. “These funds would be in addition to `4 crore each that have already been released for the districts,” he said, adding that the shortage of funds would not be allowed to come in the way of the relief and rescue operations.
“We have a fund of `15 crore for the purpose which will be fully utilised. Later, we will submit the estimates to the Centre for reimbursement,” he said.
He said an amount of `10,000 each would be provided to the police department from the relief fund for cremation of the victims of the natural disaster. “Besides, people will be free to collect wood from forests to cremate the bodies of their near and dear ones lost to the floods,” Rawat said.
Rawat said that to augment the manpower needed to boost the relief and rescue works, the DMs had also been authorised to re-employ retired officials of the ranks of naib tehsildar and tehsildar for the next six months. The government had also cleared a proposal whereby 100 pharmacists would be deputed with the SDRF, he said.
He said a generator set each would be supplied to the disaster-hit areas so that power could be immediately restored.
Rawat cited “non-availability” of land as the reason behind the government not being able to relocate around 300 villages falling in the disaster zone. “In that connection, we have written to the Centre urging it to permit us to utilise some forest areas in the plain districts,” he clarified.