Seventeen days after India's worst natural disaster ravaged Uttarakhand, the mammoth multi-agency rescue operations to evacuate all stranded pilgrims and tourists concluded on Tuesday even as Delhi sought financial assistance from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) for rebuilding damaged infrastructure in the flood- ravaged Himalayan state.
In all, around 1.1 lakh people stranded by flash floods and landslides after monsoon rains pounded the hill state on June 15 were evacuated by thousands of personnel of the Army, IAF, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), who braved all odds.
"All the remaining pilgrims stranded in Badrinath dham have been evacuated," Chamoli's district magistrate SA Murugesan told PTI over phone.
The IAF, which concluded its air sorties, has, however stationed 10 choppers in the state for about a week or so for use in any operations, an IAF official said in Delhi. Though the rescue mission has concluded, authorities faced a daunting task of cremation of badly decomposed bodies in Kedarnath area with bad weather hampering this process for the fourth day.
The Finance Ministry said in a statement that "in view of the emergency situation, both ADB and the World Bank have been requested to fast track the processes of needs assessment, project preparation and approval".
In view of the gravity of the situation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had last month announced financial support of Rs 1,000 crore to Uttarakhand for disaster relief, of which Rs 145 crore was released immediately.