The situation in Uttarakhand, which has been lashed by heavy rains, which resulted in cloud burst and flash floods in the past two days, is more grim and devastating this time although the state routinely witnesses monsoon tragedies every year.
The Uttarakhand government has deployed Air Force helicopter for rescue operations while ITBP (Indo-Tibet Border Police) and the NDRF (National Disaster Relief Force) personnel struggled hard to save stranded people in many parts of the hilly state.
Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna held a meeting with leaders of all political parties, including the main Opposition BJP, to seek their views and suggestions on how to rescue the people and overcome this tragedy.
Senior BJP leader Ajay Bhatt, who is also Leader of Opposition, said he feared that the lives of lives of thousands of people were endangered and that there was threat to the existence of the Kedarnath temple. “At this critical juncture, we are with the government and we have extended our full support to the government,” declared Bhatt, who said the Kedarnath temple area is the most affected part in the state as its Gharwal region has suffered huge loss to human lives and property.
Remote regions in Uttarkashi, Chamoli and Rudraprayag are totally cut off from the state capital Dehradun as heavy rains followed by thunderous cloud bursts have been reported from many places. The famous Char dham Yatra has been suspended while Hemkund Sahib Yatra was also terminated, owing to the huge damage to the roads in the heavy rains and more than 70,000 people mainly tourists and pilgrims being reported to be stranded or missing in many places.
In the summer season, the hill stations and the Char Dham yatra in which people visit four religious places Gangotri, Yamunotri , Kedarnath and Badrinath, are the most sought after destinations for the heat harried people of the plains who visit here every year.
Housing the four famous centuries-old temples, Uttarakhand is also called Devbhumi - land of the Gods. The state registers the highest number of religious tourists every year. Normally, anytime after June 15 is not advisable for touring the high-altitude regions in Uttarakhand, as this is the time when heavy rains start lashing the mountains.
The Meteorlogical Department had also sounded a timely monsoon warning and an alerted for heavy rainfall was sent out.
But by the time the announcement came, the tourists and the pilgrims were enjoying the cooler climes in the hilly areas and were trapped and left helpless in the downpour.
The Uttarakhand hills in the lower Himalayas are vulnerable to heavy rains and cloud bursts, which occur almost every year in the monsoon period, washing away dozens of villages and claiming lives of scores of people.