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Sunday, June 23, 2013

A STATE ROBBED & DEVASTATED In Kedarnath, crores vanish from bank chest


New Delhi: Man's baser instincts were at work even at the time of a calamitous tragedy. A week after the cloudburst close to the Kedarnath temple, the police in Uttarakhand recovered Rs 83 lakh from a man trying to take a rescue chopper and arrested him. Initial inquiries revealed the money was part of Rs 5 crore in a State Bank of India chest at the Kedarnath branch, and were proceedings from the temple which were washed away along with most structures in the pilgrim town.
    So far, Uttarakhand police have recovered only Rs 83 lakh and no one has a clue about the rest of the money. Uttarakhand DGP Satyavrat Bansal told TOI that efforts are being made to recover the rest of the money and confirmed that one man was arrested after he was found with Rs 83 lakh that he could not explain. News of missing cash spread like wildfire with unconfirmed reports said a number of people from Kedarnath town had found the chest full of cash but did not inform anyone.
    Speaking on phone from Ukhimath, an official of Ke
darnath temple committee, Raj Kumar, said, "The bank adjoining pujari niwas (priests' quarters) crumbled and swept away along with other structures. I, and over 300 pilgrims, hid inside the temple."
    Raj Kumar said wads of currency notes in the bank's almirahs and safe were strewn far from the shrine. When some local people saw the money sloshing around, they took no time to fill their bags
and fled with it. On June 19, some people saw a suspiciouslooking unidentified man waiting to be airlifted. He was handed over to police. "The cash was seized from this man and the bank was informed about the series of the notes for confirmation," said Birenderjeet Singh, SP, Rudraprayag. Singh said rescue teams were informed about the missing cash. "We can't say anything about where the cash is, but our effort is to recover it," he said.
    The Kedarnath shrine had a daily collection of nearly Rs 1 lakh, which was deposited with the SBI.
    Asked why was such huge amount of cash being stashed in the bank, Kumar said, "The cash wasn't deposited to the main branch at Ukhimat and now there is little possibility of recovery."
    Recalling the apocalyptic moment, Kumar said, "I ran inside the main temple and along with 300 others, mostly pilgrims, spent the night there. The dreadful roar of water and sludge gushing over the main temple left us scared. We stepped out when we heard Army choppers on Monday morning," said Kumar.

OPERATION RAHAT
ARMY Footprint
    8,500 soldiers of the mountain division and medical core deployed in rescue and evacuation efforts
    Shifted more than 18,000 people stranded for days in Gangotri, Joshimath, Badrinath, Kedarnath and Pindari glacier
    Prepared helipad at Jungle Chatti to facilitate evacuation
    More paratroopers sent to ground zero
THE ITBP HAND Over 2,500 people were rescued
Sunday from Badrinath
The ITBP has now
rescued close to 22,000 people
in Uttarakhand
The force also built a road from Badrinath to Hanuman Chatti
BIGGEST AIR OPERATION
IAF's biggest ever helicopterbased rescue operation in history
45 choppers making sorties
day in and day out
Over 6,000 people evacuated
solely through air sorties
Kedarnath Valley has been
totally evacuated
Bad weather affecting operations
Depending on weather, it could take about a week to complete the evacuation
Air operations now focussed on areas like Gaurikund and Harhsil
So far, the Air Force has airdropped some 1,50,000 kg of relief material
EVACUATION STRATEGY
Sorties by choppers
Mobilization of resources
Evacuation to relief camps
Moving people from relief camps to base areas
Search operation to locate and rescue the missing
Rebuilding battered areas and infrastructure
THINKING OUT OF THE BOX
IAF has put in place an ingenious air fuel bridge
The ITBP has deployed
Everest summiteers
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is planning to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to look for survivors

An ITBP jawan carries an unconscious pilgrim in Rambada





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