Officials reach Pauri accident site late, rescue ops hit | dehradun | Hindustan Times
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Officials reach Pauri accident site late, rescue ops hit

One of the worst road accidents in Uttarakand’s history took place at Gueen village in Pauri district on Sunday at 9 am. But, even after an hour of the accident, there was hardly any officer to share correct information with the media

dehradun Updated: Jul 01, 2018 22:20 IST
Arvind Moudgill
Arvind Moudgill
Hindustan Times, Pauri
At least 48 people died and 11 injured when an overcrowded bus fell into a gorge near Gueen village in Pauri district on Sunday.(HT Photo)

One of the worst road accidents in Uttarakand’s history took place at Gueen village in Pauri district on Sunday at 9 am. But, even after an hour of the accident, there was hardly any officer to share correct information with the media.

Police from Dhumakot were the first to reach the spot. After that state disaster response force teams from Dehradun and other parts reached there. But, there was no sign of any officer overseeing the search and rescue operation.

District magistrate Sushil Kumar was on leave but on hearing about the accident, he reached the spot in the evening along with senior police officers.

Dhukamot sub-divisional magistrate Kamlesh Mehta, who was handling additional charge of Pauri, reached the spot around 10.30 am.

Meanwhile, policemen and locals were busy recovering one after another body from the accident site.

The bus’s upper portion was destroyed during the accident exposing all passengers onboard. Some were stuck in the bus, some hanging and some didn’t move.

The toll reached 48 in the evening while 12 people were rescued.

The disaster control room was the first to receive the report. But, it was manned by a few clerks and contractual employees, who were clueless of what to share and what not.

There are 58 officers in the Incident Response System (IRS) of the disaster unit but none of them was available in the control room to monitor the situation and take suitable action.

Though the employees kept on updating the situation and number of casualties yet they were seen confused in taking the decisions such as arranging crane, ambulance and even copter service for the rescue operation.

In a meeting of district disaster management last month, Sushil Kumar instructed all the district-level officers not to leave their respective offices without his prior permission but the absence of all the officers of IRS system raises a big question mark on the functioning of the system.

“I am at the site. The absence of officers from the spot is a serious issue which will be dealt severely,” Sushil Kumar said. The 32-seater bus was carrying over 60 passengers, police said.

This is the season when most of natives serving in plains come to the hills on holidays and face a lot of problem in reaching their destinations due to paucity of buses and taxis on link roads as most of public transport vehicles operate on Chardham Yatra route.

The people are forced to travel in jam packed buses and taxis with passengers on roof top.

Vidya Dutt Sharma, 83, had staged a protest in front of the DM officer at Pauri in April, complaining that most of buses have been withdrawn from link roads, causing overloading and over charging by taxi operators.

“Overloaded vehicles on the narrow link roads are a serious threat to the safety of the people living in the remote areas of the hills,” said Sharma of Sangura village.

First Published: Jul 01, 2018 22:18 IST