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HindustanTimes Fri,25 Jul 2014

Uttarakhand floods: When all else failed, youth took charge

Prasad Nichenametla, Hindustan Times  Harsil, Uttarkashi, June 26, 2013
First Published: 00:01 IST(26/6/2013) | Last Updated: 00:03 IST(26/6/2013)

The youth put their best foot forward in the midst of a breakdown in the means of communication in the flood-affected parts of Uttarakhand.

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The incessant rain that began on June 16 had destroyed the only tele-network — operated by BSNL — in Harsil, on the way to Gangotri. And the power cut made useless mobiles, i-phones and other smart phones, and tabs.

For the more than 1,500 pilgrim-tourists stuck in Dharali, a village with small hotels 3 km away but cut off at several points from the Harsil army camp, it was like living in an isolated world.

Rahul Gupta, who runs a school in Motihari, Bihar, along with a couple of youngsters, went around the place, collecting the names of the survivors and their relatives’ mobile numbers, and reached the camp, requesting the army personnel to send the “I am safe” message.

“How long can we sit like this here? Someone should take charge and I thought why not me,” said Gupta.

At several places, youngsters were seen holding the hands of the old, helping them to find their way through boulders in gushing streams.

When the sorties began, the younger lot allowed the old and the sick to be airlifted first. Boys from a family that had hired private choppers t, o evacuate 50 of them stranded at Harsil shared fruit-bread, biscuits etc they received from the incoming choppers with others.

Young men of Dharali want the government to provide a satellite phone in the vicinity to inform people of impending dangers. “There is a lot the government should do in this terrain to avoid such situations,” said Sachendra Panwar, who runs a hotel in Dharali.


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