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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

Incessant rains threaten wildlife in Uttarakhand

HT Correspondent and Agencies, Hindustan Times  Dehradun, July 20, 2014
First Published: 21:11 IST(20/7/2014) | Last Updated: 21:15 IST(20/7/2014)

Vast swathes of the Corbett and Rajaji national parks in Uttarakhand have been inundated following incessant rains, forcing animals to scurry towards highland to escape the swirling floodwaters.

At least four persons have died in the state in the past two days – two of them swept away – as heavy rains pounded large parts of the state for the fifth consecutive day on Sunday.

Though there was no report of loss of wildlife, officials of the two national parks confirmed that floodwaters have erased the forest roads forcing the authorities to start patrolling on elephants. Poachers are known to take advantage of floods to hunt down animals, which become disoriented in such situations, officials said.

The two national parks are home to a large number of animals including tigers and are visited by lakhs of tourists every year.

"As the terrain of Corbett is hilly wild animal generally move towards high altitude. The staff has been asked them to keep a close watch over the wildlife," said Saket Badola, deputy director of Corbett Tiger Reserve said.

Forest guards have also been asked to intensify both day and night patrolling.

SS Sharma, principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) too confirmed that no wildlife casualty has been reported so far. "Our officers are constantly monitoring their respective areas," he added.

Meanwhile, the Rudraprayag district administration on Sunday suspended the Kedarnath pilgrimage till July 23. The administration had first suspended pilgrimage for two days on July 16 and then extended it till July 20.

"We will restart the pilgrimage when the weather improves," said Rajeev Langhar, district magistrate of Rudraprayag.

The metrological department has predicted light to moderate rains in parts of the state in the next 48 hours.  Chamoli and Pauri districts are likely to receive "heavy rainfall".

The state has remained extra cautious following last year's devastating floods which had killed 5,000 people.

All the major rivers of state including Bhagirathi, Mandakini, Saryu, and Ganga continued to flow close to the danger marks along their course.

Two persons were swept away by the strong currents of two different rivers at Rikhnikhal in Garhwal and at Sultanpatti in Kumaon region.

A woman was buried alive on Saturday evening by a landslide in Ukhimath in Rudraprayag district while an elderly man was killed as a cowshed collapsed at Lohaghat in Champavat district.

With Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri highways blocked at nearly half a dozen places many villages of Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Uttarkashi districts remain cut off.


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