Haridwar: Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna on Tuesday said the state, reeling under floods and landslides, is going through a bad phase. He said Kedarnath was the worst hit by floods as thousands of tourists were stranded.
Three ITBP personnel and two policemen were killed during a rescue operation in Kedarnath. Bahuguna said all districts in Uttarakhand have been affected by torrential rains and that rescue operations were on.
He also added that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has assured help. "Uttarakhand is going through a bad phase. Kedarnath is the most affected. The Prime Minister has assured every help," Bahuguna said.
This came as the death toll in the Uttarakhand rose to 58 and close to 70,000 tourists and pilgrims are stranded at various locations due to floods and landslides. Uttarkashi was also badly hit where another bridge has been washed away. Around 70 homes have been destroyed and nearly 200 camps have been set up for those stranded.
Meanwhile, chopper sorties are on near Haridwar. The government has dispatched NDRF teams to aid in rescue work. However, incessant rains and landslide have crippled communications, severely hampering rescue operations.
The Ganga in Haridwar is now in spate. Highways linking Delhi and Haridwar, Rishikesh and Yamunotri and Gangotri and the Badrinath National Highway are blocked for now. There are about 20 roadblocks leading to Badrinath due to landslides and flash floods.
The Dehradun Met department says the state capital received a record 340 mm of rainfall on Monday and is expected to receive more heavy rains in the next 24 hours. Several roads, including the National Highway 24, have been blocked to avoid any more traffic jams.
"ITBP officers are engaged in rescue and relief efforts. Almost 100 officers have been deployed to different regions of the state. A medical camp has been set up for pilgrims trapped in the Gangotri area. They are also being provided free food. Our teams are also patrolling the roads warning people of dangerous areas," said RS Chandel, Commanding Officer, ITBP.
Landslides have been continuing in various parts of Uttarakhand. In Almora, four people died after a bus got caught in a landslide. In Dehradun, three people died after a house collapsed. Several highways around Dehradun have been blocked now. Also, in Pithoragarh, 60 houses have been damaged and all rivers are flowing above the danger mark.
The rains creating havoc not just for humans but animals too. In Laksar, near Haridwar the deer and other animals were washed away by strong currents. Uttarakhand Disaster Control Room: 0135-2710334, 0135-2710335, 0135-2710233
Rains wreak havoc across North India
In Himachal Pradesh, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who was stranded in tribal Kinnaur district for nearly 60 hours due to landslides triggered by incessant rains, was evacuated on Tuesday morning even as 1700 people remained stranded at various places. A chopper hired by Congress party airlifted the chief minister this morning as rains abated and weather cleared this morning and about a dozen persons, including some old and ailing persons were brought to Rampur in the state helicopter, officials said.
In Uttar Pradesh, four persons were killed in rain-related incidents even as the state government issued a high alert in the wake of unexpected increase in discharge in major rivers including Ganga, Yamuna and Shrada. While three teenagers were killed in Maharajganj after being struck by lightning, a woman was killed and six others were injured when a house collapsed during heavy rains in Muzaffarnagar.
UP Principal Secretary (Irrigation) Deepak Singhal said that in the wake of continuous downpour in the last 24 hours and incidents of cloudburst in Uttarakhand and Nepal, there has been unexpected increase in discharge of Ganga, Yamuna and Sharda.
On Monday, eight lakh cusec water was released in Yamuna from Hathinikund barrage and more than four lakh cusec water discharge passed in Sharda river in Banbasa. He said that out of the 75 districts in the state, 23 were very sensitive and 11 sensitive from the flood point of view.
A day after normal life was paralysed in a few parts of Haryana, particularly Yamunanagar and Karnal districts, there was a decrease in rainfall activity across the state. On Monday, several villages in Yamunanagar district were under flood waters as rain water had entered several houses.
The rains had also led to an alarming increase in the water level of Yamuna, with an all-time record over 8.06 lakh cusecs water flowing through Hathni Kund barrage on Monday, prompting authorities to sound a high alert in districts of Karnal, Panipat, Sonipat and Faridabad. However on Tuesday, the water flowing through the barrage continued to decrease since yesterday afternoon and at 10 AM today, it was around 1.73 lakh cusecs.
In Punjab, Amritsar (9.5 mm), Patiala (trace rains), Nakodar (5 mm), besides capital town Chandigarh (1 mm) were among the few places to receive light rains. The level of water in the Bhakra dam on Tuesday touched 1595.04 feet. The reservoir's upper limit is 1680 feet. "There is no reason for any alarm as of now. The present level is normal for the rainy season considering that monsoon has arrived early this season," a Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) official said. The MeT official said that heavy rainfall activity in Punjab and Haryana is likely to further decrease from Thursday.
(With additional information from PTI)