The Uttarakhand Government on Friday told the Supreme Court that the rescue operations of the stranded pilgrims in the rain-hit state would be completed by Saturday, in case of favourable weather conditions.
Additional Advocate General of Uttarakhand U K Uniyal told a Bench comprising Justice A K Patnaik and Justice Ranjan Gogoi that the suggestions given by the petitioner with regard to the rescue operations were welcome.
Senior counsel M N Krishnamani, appearing for petitioner Ajay Bansal, told the Bench that the rescued persons are being made to walk for about four km. “They are weak and the weather condition is bad. Therefore, this should be avoided,” he said.This was, however, denied by Uniyal.
At this, the Bench said, “As far as practicable, the state authorities should avoid making the stranded persons walk for long distances.” The court posted the matter to Wednesday for further hearing.
The Uttarakhand Government, in its response to the suggestions offered by the petitioner, submitted that the National Disaster Response Force, Indian Army, Indian Air Force, ITBP, State police and the district administration did a commendable job in rescuing the stranded pilgrims.
Approximately 1.5 lakh persons have been transported from the disaster-affected areas, it stated.
“There is no shortage of drinking water, food and kerosene in Badrinath. Power and communications have been restored there,” it said.
The allegation of the petitioner that people are being forced to trek for 70 to 80 km in areas where long stretches of roads have vanished is absolutely wrong and not a single person had died in the process of evacuation, the Uttarakhand AAG said. The allegation that elderly sadhus are being forced to walk is also baseless, he added.