It’s been more than a week since he was appointed as the nodal officer for relief and rescue operations in rain-ravaged Uttarakhand. National Disaster Management Authority member VK Duggal was brought in five days after the calamity hit the state.
Excerpts of the interview:
You were brought in because of lack of coordination among different agencies. Has that problem been resolved?
When a natural disaster of this magnitude occurs, some hiccups at the operational level are bound to occur.
How many people have been evacuated so far?
More than one lakh people have been evacuated. About 1,900 people are stranded in Badrinath. If the weather conditions are favourable, all will be evacuated by Sunday.
Now that the rescue operation is almost complete, what are your priorities?
Our top-most priority is compiling a list of the dead. We hope to complete it in 15 days.
A large number of bodies are feared to have been buried under the debris.
We will remove most bodies, if not all, because many bodies are buried 10-foot deep. We have not received many requests for a DNA test.
But then there is a lurking threat of outbreak of diseases because of the dead bodies.
There is no threat of any epidemic due to dead bodies. Besides, steps are being taken to prevent any outbreak of disease… water purifier machines have been installed.
There are suggestions that you may be assigned reconstruction work…
I can’t say anything now. There are 2,500 villages where restoration work is required.