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Friday, June 28, 2013

U’KHAND BEGINS TO PICK UP PIECES While state waits for aid, 500 relief trucks await nod

Dehradun: At least 500 trucks carrying ration and food-related material meant for distribution among survivors in catastrophe-hit Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Uttarkashi and Pithoragarh districts are lying parked for the last four days in Rishikesh, Dehradun, Haridwar and Haldwani. The trouble is the administration is not clearing their onward journey for want of clearances. 
    Of these, 96 ration-loaded trucks were sent by senior Congress leaders on behalf of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and its vice-president Rahul Gandhi. These have been lying on both sides of the 230km Haridwar-Gangotri bypass obstructing traffic – all because the administration's failure to ensure its distribution among survivors far-fl ung places. 
    A Congress leader in Dehradun said these ration trucks were stuck because the administration refused to accept the supplies for want of storage space. "Unless the administration allows these trucks to move the perishables would rot," said an offi cial. 
    Dehradun additional district magistrate Harak Singh Rawat said as the government does not have any place to store the heavy quantity of 
ration, the question of issuing permits to the truck owners to proceed further does not arise. 
    Members of different social and political organisations have accused Congress leaders of unnecessarily wasting food supplies like grains, biscuits, drinking water, and oil for the sake of scoring brownie points from fl oods victims. 
    Singh said Congress workers are not at all inclined to trek for miles to distribute food items to victims. State Congress chief Yashpal Arya said the government will issue 
permit to stranded truck owners to proceed further soon so as to distribute ration and food material among victims in affected areas. 
    However, Garhwal commissioner Suvardhan said as the government already has more than enough stock of ration for distribution among those in need, the stranded trucks will have to wait for a two more days. "We will definite issue permits to their owners to move further so that material is distributed among people who are genuinely affected," said Suvardhan. 

150 docs rushed to U'khand amid diarrhoea outbreak 

Dehradun: With the threat of diseases looming over the floodaffected areas in Uttarakhand, the Centre has sent 150 doctors to the state. A large number of cases of water-borne diseases, such as diarrhoea, are being reported from districts like Guptkashi, Gauchar and Uttarkashi among others. Efforts are on to provide medical aid to those affected. The Union health ministry has also sent a team of epidemiologists, health experts and some high-ranking officials, including the director general of health services, to monitor the situation. "I have held a meeting with the state authorities. Right now, there is no threat of epidemic but we cannot rule out any such eventuality. Preventive measures like making drinking water available in affected villages are being taken," said Jagdish Prasad, DGHS. He said that around 150 doctors from across the country have been sent to the state to tackle any possible crisis. At least 128 cases of high fever and gastro-intestinal infections were reported in Ramnagar — a tiny village near Guptkashi — recently. Some ITBP jawans have also reported sick. TNN

Life after death & destruction biggest challenge in U’khand

2,000 Villages Damaged By Flash Floods

Joshimath: As the helicopter weaves through the mountains along the Alaknanda valley to this roadhead to Badrinath, what you see can shake the stoutest heart. Village after village lies in ruins. Broken roads, damaged 
buildings—some of them houses, some shops or schools or infirmaries—twisted electric poles, scattered debris: it is a picture of total devastation. 
    "Two years back I took voluntary retirement to settle down in my village. I built a guesthouse here from my savings. This one disaster has taken away everything. My village house has been destroyed too and I am forced to live here in the relief camp," said Prawesh Rana, a resident of Joshimath.

TEARFUL FAREWELL: Flight Lt Tapan Kapoor's mother Lata breaks down at his funeral in Delhi on Friday. The 27-year-old aeronautics engineer from Chandni Chowk was among 20 men killed in the Mi-17 helicopter crash in Gaurikund, Uttarakhand, on Tuesday. The bravehearts were given a guard of honour in two solemn ceremonies in Dehradun and Hindon air base. Kapoor was cremated with full state honours| P 15 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

helping the help

    My domestic help has been with me for many 
    years and I got her PF, medical insurance and paid for the education of her daughter. Today, her daughter has completed her graduation from Wilson College and got a job with an ad film company. I believe people like us are blessed to have been born into families where — with no effort of ours — we've got a roof over our head, three meals on the table and an education. When I started working, I realised that I should share what I was lucky to have 

    It is an ingenious idea, simple 
    but effective in so many ways. It's not so much charity as it is about making a tangible difference to the lives of those less fortunate. I also truly believe in the power of education, be it a formal degree or training in life skills. I ensure that my staff's children are provided with an education that can help them realize their full potential 

    Compassion is at the 
    heart of all our endeavours to improve the world. That is what makes us better people. Someone once said that no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Changing the world is easier than you think 

    India's biggest and brightest 
    asset is its youth. They are the makers of today and tomorrow. They can start by reaching out to people working for them, help them get an education which will go on to improve literacy levels and, in turn, address many social ills. Small initiatives can yield big results 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Banks ask users of six ‘skimmed’ ATMs to immediately change PIN

3.2k Cardholders Intimated By One Bank Alone

    The cardholders who recently transacted at the six city ATM kiosks targeted in a skimming fraud are being asked to change their PIN as a precaution. 
    The National Payments Corporation of India—which provides the backbone system that networks all ATMs—has given banks the details of the cards that were used in the six ATMs during the period they were compromised. Cardholders have been asked to change their PIN immediately to thwart bids to misuse the stolen data. The PIN is essential for transacting on the web and at ATMs. 
    Police officers say that two Bulgarians in April installed a skimming device in an Axis Bank ATM at Colaba and copied card details of several users. Similar gadgets were reportedly placed in at least five other ATM kiosks in Mumbai-—whether by the same suspects is unknown as yet. 
    Using the data copied from the Colaba ATM alone, police officers say, the fraudsters stole Rs 15.5 lakh from 39 accounts, 14 of them belonging to policemen. The money was withdrawn from eight ATM kiosks in Greece. In the wake of the fraud, Axis Bank has reportedly urged 3,200 cardholders to immediately change their PIN. 
    With online banking frauds becoming increasingly regular, measures are afoot to make card payments more secure. Banks are intimating customers that for security their debit cards would be valid for international use only on request. 
    Furthermore, a host of new features are scheduled to be introduced from July 1. 
    At the behest of the regulator, card-issuing banks are migrating from the traditional magnetic stripe cards to chip cards. "A chip card has an embedded microchip. It is more secure than a card with just a magnetic stripe since the security chip makes it more difficult to fraudulently copy card details," said advocate Vicky Shah. The deadline for this card shift was June 31, but it is likely to be missed given that close to two crore credit cards need to be changed. 

    Still, once the effort is complete, card security will improve considerably: merchants will have to ask cardholders to punch a secret PIN besides obtaining their signature on the charge slip. 
    At the back-end, the Nation
al Payments Corporation of India is putting in place a realtime fraud protection system, which will reject transactions upon emergence of a fraud pattern. While complex features will deter fraudsters, bankers say the best security is to constantly change passwords and to keep a watch out for signs of phishing websites and ATMs that are tampered. 
Banks whose ATMs were used in Greece 
Panellinia Bank SA | Probank | Banco 
Dominicano Del Progreso | Bank 
of Cyprus Public Company | Citibank 
International Plc | Piraeus Bank | National Bank 
of Greece | Emporiki Bank of Greece 

Fraud Operation 
The two suspects allegedly installed skimming devices in an ATM and copied the card details of several people using the machines. Similar devices were placed in six other ATMs. 15.5 lakh was withdrawn from 39 accounts, 14 of which belonged to Mumbai policemen 

Three police teams have been formed for speedy probe. A letter rogatory has been prepared to be sent to Greece 

Be aware of your surroundings at ATM kiosks. Be wary of people offering to help with transactions. Avoid using ATMs that appear unusual or offers options you find unfamiliar 
Do not allow anyone to watch you entering your PIN. Do not reenter it if an ATM swallows your card—instead, contact the bank 
Closely monitor your bank balance and statements 
Don't provide copies of both sides of the card. The reverse side has the CVV 

Immediately alert the bank about the fraud or suspicious transaction 
    Follow up with a written complaint 
    Lodge a police complaint and submit a copy of the first information report, along with the plaint, to the bank 
    Customers are being warned against sharing card details and against operating an ATM in the presence of another person 
    Cardholders are being asked to inspect ATM for abnormalities before operating them 
Bank personnel are conducing frequent checks of ATMs to ensure fraudsters do not attach skimming machines to them 
Work is on to upgrade magnetic stripe cards to chip cards

Innovative warnings to prevent track deaths

Mumbai: The Central Railway (CR) will introduce neuroscience-based concepts to alter the behaviour of railway line trespassers in an effort to prevent fatal accidents on tracks. 
    The CR had implemented similar methods with reasonable success in 2009, but the idea soon faded away. 
    The CR has now decided to implement innovative solutions offered by Final Mile, a behaviour architecture firm, in phases. 
    "In the first phase, locations at Mulund, Ghatkopar, Kurla, Mankhurd and Wadala Road have been selected," CR chief public relation officer Atul Rane said. 
    The measures suggested by Final Mile had first been introduced at Wadala Road, and the results were encouraging. In 2009, about 40 people died because of trespassing at Wadala Road, but the number of deaths came down to 10 in 2010, after the implementation of these initiatives by the CR. 
    "Despite our success, the concept died an early death as our officials implementing the project got transferred or promoted," a CR official said. 

    In its renewed effort, the CR will paint the sleepers yellow at chronic trespassing spots. A CR official said the measure will help trespassers judge the speed of an oncoming train by the rate at which the yellow sleepers disappear below it. 
    "Most accidents happen as trespassers are unable to gauge the speed of the trains, resulting in accidents," the official said. 
    Whistle boards will also be put up at trouble spots to serve as a sign to the motorman to honk intermittently. 

    "It has been observed that trespassers ignore the honking sounds coming from all directions, but intermittent honking a few metres before the vulnerable locations will warn the trespasser about the lurking danger," the official said. 
    Scary images of trespassing-related accidents will also be put up to warn people of the dangers of crossing railway tracks. 
    These measures have also been introduced at trouble spots on the Western Railway line. 

SLEEPERS PAINTED YELLOW | As large objects appear to move slower compared to smaller ones, people tend to misjudge the speed of an approaching train. People get a better idea of the train speed when they see how fast the yellow sleepers are disappearing under it 
WHISTLE BOARDS | The boards will be installed 120 metres before chronic track-crossing spots. Motormen must give two short, rapid honks instead of a lengthy hoot when they approach these signs. Staccato horns have been found to be more effective in discouraging crossing of tracks 

PHOTOGRAPHS OF TRAIN RUNNING OVER PERSON | The three-panel pictures scare people to prevent them from crossing tracks 
    The above measures will be taken up initially at Mulund, Ghatkopar, Kurla, Mankhurd and Wadala Road

Pizza delivery boy tries to rape, kill woman in Worli

Mumbai: A 17-year-old pizza delivery boy was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly trying to rape and murder a 24-yearold woman in Worli. The victim, a civil engineer from Wardha, had come to Mumbai to look for a job and was staying with her aunt in government quarters on Annie Besant Road. 

"On Tuesday evening, the victim called up a local pizza shop and placed an order. She was alone at home as her aunt, a government servant, had gone to Pune on work," said senior inspector Deepak Pawar of the Worli police station. 
    At 8pm, the teenager delivered the pizza at the victim's first-floor flat and left. He might have realized that she was alone at home, said an officer. A few minutes later he rang the doorbell again and said he had forgotten to give her sachets of
sauce and chilli flakes. "All of a sudden, he pushed the woman inside and bolted the door. He dragged her into the kitchen and tried to rape her. When she resisted, he picked up a kitchen knife and slashed her on the neck and wrists," said Pawar.City's turning more unsafe for women Crimes against women in the city's local trains have seen a massive spike. This year has already seen 18 molestation cases till May as against the annual figure of 21 in 2012. The number of rape cases registered till May 2013 has also crossed the 2012 figure. TNN P 4 Turbhe minors face rape & murder rap Murder charge has been slapped on the fourjuveniles from Turbhe accused of raping a 10-year-old girl after she died on Tuesday. She was admitted to the hospital with meningitis. The autopsy report is yet to mention the cause of death. TNN P 5 Plucky victim hit back at pizza delivery boy 
Mumbai: A teenage pizza delivery boy tried to rape and kill a young woman in Worli on Tuesday night. However, the plucky victim fought back and managed to grab a grinding stone and hit her assailant on the face. When she screamed for help, he panicked and fled. 
    Hearing her screams, neighbours rushed to the flat. They took her to the nearby Podar Hospital and called up her aunt. The hospital informed the police who recorded her statement. She was later shifted to Nair hospital; doctors say her condition is stable. 
    At 9.30pm, the police reached the pizza shop, but it was shut for the day. They then went to the owner's house to get the boy's address and picked up the suspect from his Worli Koliwada chawl room on Wednesday morning. 
    The shop-owner told the police that he had given the teenager, a class VIII dropout, a job in his kitchen as he was his neighbour. The owner told the police that he had sent the boy to the victim's house as all the delivery boys were out. 
    "When he did not return to the shop after delivering the pizza, I called him up. He told me that he had an argument with his girlfriend and was going home. I believed him," said the shop-owner. "I had recently set up the shop after taking a loan. Now, his stupid act has ru
ined my business." 
    At 1am on Wednesday, the police arrested the boy and booked him for attempt to rape 
and murder under the IPC. 
    The teenager's father works in a private firm and his mother is a homemaker.
WHAT HAPPENED At 8pm on Tuesday, a 17-year-old boy delivers pizza to a 24-year-old woman, who lives with her aunt in a government quarters in Worli. She is alone at home. A few minutes later, he rings the doorbell again, says he forgot to give chilli flake sachets Suddenly he barges in and locks the door. He drags the woman into the kitchen and tries to rape her He picks up a knife, slashes her wrists and neck. She hits him on the face with a grinding stone and screams for help. He flees Neighbours take her to nearby hospital. The police take her statement and arrest the teenager from his Worli Koliwada chawl room on Wednesday at 1am

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Saviours lose their own lives: 20 rescuers killed in chopper crash

Tragedy Strikes Day After IAF Sets Record By Evacuating 4,500
We're Grieving But Will Finish Job: Air Chief

Harsil/Dehradun/New Delhi: It turned out to be tragedy upon a tragedy. The rescue and relief operations in Uttarakhand took a tragic turn on Tuesday afternoon when an IAF MI-17-V5 medium-lift helicopter crashed north of Gaurikund, killing all the five crew members and 15 others on board.
    The IAF's Garud commandos found eight bodies after they slithered down from a helicopter to reach the wreck
age site in what was described "as a treacherous narrow valley, with steep walls'', before further operations were called off due to approaching dusk.
    "Three more bodies were found later,'' said an officer. Ironically, the crash came a day after the IAF on Monday had defied adverse weather to rescue 4,500 people flying 330 sorties, making it the biggest evacuation carried out by helicopters anywhere in the world.
    "While we have suffered this tragic loss, and are grieving, we will continue with our mission and finish the job,'' Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne told TOI on Tuesday night. The IAF chief will fly to De
hradun and Gauchar, which has become a hub of the rescue operations, on Wednesday "to be with all the brave boys and boost morale''.
    Despite the crash, work
on the ground carried on without interruption. As many as 300 people crossed the Lambagad rope bridge near Badrinath, another 300 walked from Govindghat to Joshimath. Some 120 people were airlifted from Badrinath while 895 people were evacuated on foot.
Epidemic outbreak? 128 villagers fall ill

    The fear of an epidemic outbreak has deepened with 128 villagers and three ITBP men reporting to medical camps with fever, diarrhoea and vomiting. Authorities blame contamination of natural water sources due to hundreds of decaying bodies across the valley. 
LIC to ease claim settlement norms
    As a special measure, Life Insurance Corporation of India will waive the normal seven-year waiting period for settlement of claims in case of missing persons. Details will be finalized in 72 hours. CM Vijay Bahuguna has already said the state will issue death certificates after a month's waiting period. P 17 
Lack of manpower delays cremation
    Lack of manpower and resources is threatening to delay the extrication and cremation of unclaimed bodies at Kedarnath as the ITBP has refused to go beyond its limited mandate of rescuing survivors. All ITBP men camping in Kedarnath might be called back in the next two to three days. P 16 
TIMES VIEW: THE TOP PRIORITY TO-DO AGENDA SHORT-TERM MEASURES 1 Evacuate all stranded pilgrims. Comb affected areas for missing 2 Urgent need of medicines & shelter for locals. Prevent outbreak of epidemics 3 Restore phone, power and water lines 4 Over 200 villages cut off. Rebuild roads/bridges leading to them 5 Create warehouses for relief material. Create efficient distribution system MEDIUM- AND LONG-TERM STEPS 1 Tabulate damage to locals. Create detailed rehab plans; create necessary finance 2 Regulate pilgrims to Chardham yatra like Amarnath Yatra. Register pilgrims/tourists going to disaster-prone areas 3 Identify natural drainage channels, declog them if blocked 4 Frame building guidelines; enforce them strictly 5 Train school teachers to boost disaster preparedness. Harness local resource as response in first 48 hours of disaster is crucial 6 Make environmental assessment together with state GDP statistics to measure growth Locals seeking to get away also being moved out
Harsil/Dehradun/New Delhi: On a day an IAF chopper crashed in Uttarakhand, killing 20 rescuers, 40 pilgrims from Tamil Nadu were still stranded at Sirka village in Chamoli district.
    On Monday evening, IAF officers overseeing the airlift from Harsil, close to Gangotri, reported that the last of some 2,000 persons had been moved out.
    To their surprise, a thousand more appeared on Tuesday, requiring renewed sorties. Some of the new arrivals were tourists and pilgrims who had fled the floods, but many were locals just keen to get away.
    "Having lost their cattle and with no prospect of tourism reviving, many local citizens wanted to leave for a few weeks. The rescuers
didn't say no, they are moving everyone out," said a top official involved in coordinating operations.
    The surge of people at Harsil highlighted the task before the armed forces, paramilitary and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) on a day when despite bad weather IAF choppers flew 40 sorties and all agencies together evacuated 2,393 people. As IAF pilots fly on the edge to reach difficult destinations—while also keeping an eye out for other choppers in a murky sky where there are no air traffic controllers—the rescue has zeroed onto Harsil, Joshimath and Badrinath.
    There are around 3,600 people in various relief camps who need to be brought back. Some estimates put this figure at around 6-7,000.
    Although food supplies are adequate, medical facili
ties are needed while shortages of items like edible oil are being addressed. Faced with logistical challenges, the Centre has formed an action plan to address the situation as the last of the evacuees leave Uttarakhand over the next few days.
    Topping the list are health concerns, not only for victims but for rescue personnel working under conditions of rain and in proximity to dead and decomposing bodies. Medical supplies and doctors are being mobilized on a war footing.
    Some 266 of 270 mobile towers are now working. BSNL is starting a service where the mobile number of a missing person can be traced to the last used location. A centralized list of missing persons will be up on the Uttarakhand government website along with a list of those who have been found.

Workers load an IAF helicopter with wood for mass cremation of flood victims in Kedarnath

Monday, June 24, 2013

Half of Mumbai’s suicide victims below age 30

 Suicides in Mumbai rose by an alarming 12% in 2012 after witnessing a dip the previous year. A staggering 50% of those who took their lives in the city were younger than 30 and among these more than half were women, reveals the latest data of the National Crime Records Bureau.
    A total of 1,296 people killed themselves in the financial capital last year, placing it fourth in the list of Indian cities with the highest suicide incidence. Chennai led the death chart with 2,183 suicides, followed by Bangalore (1,989) and Delhi (1,397).
    The national suicide rate (total suicides per lakh population) stood at 11.4 in 2012, a few points higher than Mumbai's 7 and a few points lower than Maharashtra's 14.
    Generally, men accounted for more suicide deaths than women. The trend was true in Mumbai, where 59% of the suicide victims were men, and in Maharashtra, where 70% of the victims were males. Nationally too, the ratio of male to female suicide victims was 66.2 to 33.8. An exception to the trend was the age group of up to 14 years; in Mumbai, thrice the number of girls in this age bracket killed themselves than boys.
    Dr Lakshmi Vijaykumar, who was responsible for the inclusion of suicide prevention in the National Mental Health Policy of India, said there is wide variation in suicide rates within the country. "The southern states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have a suicide rate of more than 15, while in the northern states of Punjab, UP, Bihar and Kashmir, the suicide rate is less than 3. This pattern has been stable for the last twenty years."
    Vijaykumar added that smaller cities are worryingly catching up with metros in recording high suicide rates. "Also, the fact that 71% of suicides in India are by persons below the age of 44 imposes a huge social, emotional and economic burden on our society."
    Family problems were revealed in the NCRB data to be the single largest factor driving people to end their lives. The factor was given as the cause of 40% suicides—264 men and 262 women—in Mumbai and 26% suicides across the country. Major illnesses, such as cancer and AIDS, taken together constituted the second biggest suicide cause—causing 28% of the deaths—in Mumbai. They were followed by drug addiction (6.9%), failure in exam (4.5%) and love affairs (4.5%). Boys and girls alike took their lives over love affairs.
    Emotional reasons like failed marriage, relationship and love affairs drove most of the 534 female suicides in Mumbai. By contrast, the causes of the 762 male suicides were economic, relating to poverty and employment.
    Hanging emerged to be the most employed method to end one's life, with 917 of the 1,296 victims in the city using it. In Maharashtra, 7,055 people killed themselves this way. Selfimmolation was the second most common suicide method in Mumbai and consuming poison the third. Surprisingly, only one person committed suicide in the city by coming under the train, though the figure for the category was 128 in the state.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

‘Earth’s temp rise rate equals heat from 4 atom bombs/sec’

Emission Of CO2 Higher Than Ever Before, Warn Scientists

Melbourne: Earth has been building up temperatures at a rate equal to the heat generated by four Hiroshima nuclear bombs every second, a climate scientist has warned.
    According to John Cook, Climate Communication Fellow from the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, humans are now emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than any other time in history of humankind.
    "All these heat-trapping greenhouse gases in our atmosphere mean our planet has been building up heat at the rate of about four Hiroshima bombs every second - consider that going continuously for several decades," said Cook.
    In a speech on extreme weather in Sydney on Saturday, Cook said about 90% of
global warming was going into the oceans, which act like a natural thermometer along with changes in land, ice, and animal species.
    He warned that distributions of trees are shifting to
wards cooler areas of Earth such as the poles or mountains, and animal species are responding to global warming by mating earlier in the year.
    "This is not because ani
mals are getting randier, it is because the seasons themselves are shifting," Cook said.
    Cook said studies have tried to put a number on how much of global warming is caused by humans, "and the rough answer is, all of it".
    He said for the last 20 years, 97% of scientists have been in agreement that human activity is behind warmer temperatures.
    Hurricane Katrina and superstorm Sandy are just two examples of how extreme weather will intensify, it was reported in Australia's Climate Action Summit. At least 120 climate records were broken in Australia this January, including the hottest month and the hottest day. New colours had to be added to temperature maps to mark highs of over 50 and 54 degrees Celsius. AGENCIES

NEW HIGHS: 120 climate records were broken in Australia this January, including the hottest month and the hottest day

VOICES FROM GROUND ZERO ‘We survived on water flowing over the dead’

Indore: For the Sisodiyas in Indore, it was a nightmare they'll never forget.
    The Sisodiya family and other members of the group who arrived at the Indore railway station on Sunday, recalled:
"We were stranded at a dharmashala in Kedarnath for four days with no food and water. There was no help from the administration. We even drank water that flowed over dead bodies." People stranded at the place were finally airlifted by private helicopters. Two boys from the group died during the ordeal. "We saw people looting money, jewellery from dead bodies. It was total chaos and everything was dreadful there," Rajal Sisodiya said.
'Our Hotel Got Swept Away'
The Pancholi family from Indore are among the lucky ones who successfully of
fered prayers at the shrines at Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath just before the deluge. "On the way back from Badrinath heavy rain and landslides forced us to take shelter at a three-storey hotel in Pandukeshwar. To our horror we found the hotel building shaking and a hospital building behind the hotel collapsing," S S Pancholi said. "When we progressed towards Govind Ghat-Hemkunt Sahib, we saw the hotel where we stayed being swept away by flood waters," said Nikita, an MBBS student.
Woman Lived On A Bus
Nashik: A woman, who was stranded during the Kedarnath yatra, recalled her ordeal of living in a bus for three days to survive the nightmare. "Roads and bridges were washed away in the flash flood and we were not aware of the situation. We lived in a bus for three days on biscuits," said Priya Bagul. WITH AGENCY INPUTS

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.

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
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
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
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

All pilgrims from Kedarnath rescued, but toll could rise

Focus Now On Badrinath And Harsil

Badrinath/Dehradun/ New Delhi: Amid the first official confirmation that more than 5,000 people perished in the Uttarakhand catastrophe, massive efforts to save thousands of pilgrims stranded in Kedarnath and Badrinath achieved a big breakthrough with rescue teams scooping out nearly 12,000 survivors against the looming threat of rains, disease and starvation.
    Of those who were brought to safety, 7,000 were trapped in the Kedarnath and Gaurikund areas: the stretch that bore the brunt of the catastrophe.
    However, the fate of abo
ut 2,000 pilgrims caught up in Harsil near Uttarkashi remains vulnerable, and will see a concerted action from the rescue teams.
    Although 10,000 people are still to be taken out from Badrinath, Harsil and Jungle Chatti, it was those marooned in Kedarnath and Gaurikund who had looked really precarious. Weak from days of starvation and facing the real risk of an epidemic in an area littered with rotting bodies, the hapless lot had looked particularly vulnerable against the threat of hostile weather.
Hope floats, but weather a worry
    The cloudburst had wreaked havoc in the area and smashed infrastructure; leaving the survivors without any shelter. The situation of those stuck in Badrinath is relatively better. In short, the task of saving thousands of lives which appeared hopeless on Saturday evening with the clock ticking away did not seem insurmountable on
Sunday. "The focus of the operation on Monday will be Harsil where
around 2,000 pilgrims are stranded in vulnerable
conditions," an official said. However, the weather continues to be a worry. "Rains on Tuesday are
our main worry... if we get three to four hours of window tomorrow, we can do well," Air Marshal S B Deo, DG, Air Operations, told reporters here.
    However, with Kedarnath and Gaurikund region, the epicenter of the destruction, virtually cleared of pilgrims, authorities can focus on those who remain in Badrinath and Harsil. The local police reached Kedarnath and Gaurikund on Sunday and have started the process of identification of bodies.

    The 5,000 pilgrims who remain in Badrinath have been put up in different hotels, as Army and ITBP personnel try to step up their operations to get them out of the area. Around 100 people remain in Gaurikund.
    The achievement of the Army, IAF, ITBP and NDRF will help contain the toll from the calamity which Uttarakhand's disaster management minister Yashpal Arya put at "at

least 5,000". "At least 5,000 people must have been killed in the deluge," Arya told reporters at Jolly Grant airport in the state capital.
    This was five-fold jump from the 1,000 deaths confirmed by chief minister Vijay Bahuguna. This was also a grim validation of the widely held estimate that, with thousands still unaccounted for amid reports of dozens of villages been swept away, the casualty could reach frightening proportions.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Vacant for 3 years, dangerous Bldg crashes, kills 7 Residents Had Evacuated Flats In 2010, Most Victims Were Vendors

 Avacant dilapidated building, allowed to stand for over three years as a dispute over conveyance and redevelopment dragged on, collapsed early on Saturday killing seven people who happened to be in its vicinity. 
    Piyush Co-operative Housing Society, at Dahisar East, which was evacuated in 2010 and sealed by the BMC, crashed at around 6.30am. Most victims were vendors operating illegally at the edge of the premises, besides family members of the building's security guard. At the heart of the crash was a dispute over conveyance, an issue that haunts a majority of old buildings in the city. 
    Constructed in the eighties, the ground-plus-four-storey building on Y Tawde Road was a stone's throw from the station and in the middle of a busy 

market dominated by vegetable wholesalers. "I was at my tea stall when there was a deafening sound, like an explosion. There was dust everywhere and I could see part of the structure caving in. I alerted seven to eight people around me and we ran out," said Hitesh Trivedi. He earlier ran a shop on the ground-floor of Piyush society, but after the building was evacuated and sealed, he began operating from the parking space. 
    Fire brigade personnel reached within 10 minutes and rescue operations began soon after. Locals and vendors played a crucial role in the initial rescue operations. Dahisar police recorded statements of society members and the watchman, besides those injured. 
    The building's watchman, Maansingh Lamsal, was inconsolable after losing three of his family members in the crash. "Maansingh had stepped out to fill the water tank of the adjacent building. His wife, Nandkala, daughter Pavitra and brother-in-law Lalbahadur Bhool were put up temporarily at Piyush society," said a relative. Sugarcane vendor Abdul Hassan too was tearyeyed after losing four employees who were chatting outside the building 
after dropping a co-worker at the railway station. 
    Initially a residential building, residents claimed that Piyush Society was converted to a commercial one when diamond polishing units came up in the flats. In 2010, the BMC sent a notice to the society declaring it as C-III category, a dangerous structure which was repairable. "The society had a dispute with the builder and redevelopment wasn't initiated. We filed a case against the society at the metropolitan magistrate's court," said deputy municipal commissioner Bharat Marathe. 
    "We didn't get conveyance, so we couldn't proceed with redevelopment. Using our funds, we put up tin sheets to cordon off the building after it was vacated three years ago. We also appointed a watchman to prevent anyone from entering the structure. The vendors, operating illegally outside the premises, had been warned the structure was dangerous," said society chairman Lalit Jain. 
    Casualties would have been far greater had the building collapse occurred in the evening when the market is packed. "In the morning, we buy vegetables from wholesalers for our retail shops. Saturday was no different till the building gave way. We ran wherever we could, mindless of the direction," said Rajitram Maurya, one of the injured. Pramod Prajapati, who suffered from a pelvic fracture, said he was stuck under a truck ferrying vegetables. He has been admitted to the trauma ICCU at Bhagwati Hospital and is under observation. Three others, Anilkumar Maurya, Jayprakash Gupta and Rambharose Rajbhar, sustained fractures. The rest, Rajitram Maurya, Santosh Ghone and Govindlal Gupta, suffered blunt injuries and abrasions, doctors said. 
    Corporator Prakash Darekar alleged the BMC should have initiated demolition after the building developed cracks three years ago. Municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte said"We are studying ways in which amendments could be introduced to give the BMC more powers to act in such cases. It is very unfortunate that completely unrelated people lost their lives in the incident," said Kunte. He said the BMC's powers fell short in this case as it was a private premise.

ANOTHER TRAGEDY: After the collapse, corporators blamed the civic body for not initiating demolition of the building, which developed cracks three years ago. But the BMC claimed that it had already started legal proceedings against the housing society

Dahisar bldg fall kills 7. Toll 101 in 4 crashes in 79 days

2nd Collapse In 2 Days; House Dangerous, Yet Left Standing

Mumbai: An unoccupied building, labelled dangerous and evacuated in 2010, collapsedon Saturday morning,killing seven persons and injuring another seven in Dahisar. Four buildings have collapsed across the city and its suburbs in just 79 days this year, between April 4 and June 22, snuffing out 101 lives. 
    PiyushCo-operativeHousing society, a four-storey building constructed in 1982 on Y Tawde Road close to Dahisar station, collapsed at around 6.30am,killing three members of the building watchman's family andfour vendorson the footpathoutside. 
    The 'dangerous' structure, 
though unoccupied, was neither demolished nor repaired owing to a disputebetween the housing society and the builder. The BMC filed a case against the housing society for notinitiating repairs. 
    Municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte said since it was a private building, the onus of repairs was on the owner and residents. "If a lapse is proved on their part, we may file a police complaint against them for endangering thelivesof people." 
    However, the civic body didn't disconnect the building's water connection, allowing the watchman's family to keep returning to use the bathrooms of the vacant flats. The BMC said it will probe if the water supply was 'illegal'. 


June 22 | Condemned Dahisar building collapse kills 7 
June 21 | 3-storey Mumbra house caves in, 10 perish 
June 10 | Portion of a five-storey house in Mahim falls, 10 dead 
April 4 | Underconstruction illegal building in Shilphata crashes, killing 74 

3 of watchman's family & 4 vendors outside killed 
    4-storey Piyush Coop Housing society built over 30 years ago near Dahisar station as a residential building 
    Turned into a commercial building as 
diamond polishing units came up in the flats
    In 2010, BMC declared it dangerous but repairable. Vacated and sealed it 
    No repairs took place, thanks to a dispute 
    BMC went to court, but building wasn't demolished

A part of the Dahisar building fell on road outside, killing 4 bystanders

Toll may cross 1,000, says U’khand CM

New Roads Opened For Rescue As Forces Race To Beat Rain; 22K Still Out Of Reach

Threat Of Epidemic Looms As Bodies Of Victims Start To Rot

New Delhi: As daredevil pilots meandered their craft through unpredictable weather and soldiers slithered down wobbly choppers to help the stranded, hungry and sick people, rain and flood-ravaged Uttarakhand's chief minister finally conceded on Saturday that fatalities from the disaster could cross 1,000. 
    "The death toll is likely to be around 1,000," VijayBahuguna told reportersin Dehradun as rescuers stared at gloomy skies and more rain in the days ahead, making the task of ferrying to safety the 22,000 pilgrims and villagers who still remain out of reach more daunting. 
    Officials said the threat of fresh rain and epidemic breakout loomed large. In fact, on 

Saturday,badweather andfreshdestruction of some newly-erected infrastructure impeded rescue with security forces being unable to clear Kedarnath Valley and airlifting only 500 out of Badrinathwhere atleast8,000 arestillstuck. 
    "According to the forecast with us, rain is likely on Monday and Tuesday. Even 3-4 cm of rain may hamper our work. Our choppers cannot navigate through the clouds in the valley," said a senior IAF officer. 
    Sunday's operation is going to be especially difficult in Kedarnath valley, where several hundred bodies strewn over 30 sq km have started stinking due to decay. Forces are already functioning with masksover their faces with epidemic outbreak looming large. Much of Saturday was spent rebuilding broken roads, bridges in the Badrinath axis and building new helipads at Auli and Gaurikund. 

1,000 Dead 123 bodies found in Kedarnath temple complex on Saturday 70,000 Rescued so far 22,000 Stranded 8,500 Army men on ground 1-day window for rescue as rain expected on Mon, TuesTIMES VIEW 
    The government argues that the demand to immediately declare the tragedy in Uttarakhand a national calamity is based on the mistaken assumption that funds are being held up because such a categorization has not happened. It may be true that declaring the current situation a national calamity will make no difference to official fund flows, but there is a larger picture the government is missing. When a tragedy is officially declared a national calamity, it also serves a signalling function, both for the government machinery and for the country at large. It helps channelize energies of both officialdom and civil society into dealing with the tragedy. If only for that reason, it needs to be done, and now. 
Bad weather, epidemic fear looms in U'khand 
    However, with infrastructure in place, forces hope to step up rescue work on a war footing on Sunday andtry to evacuate everyone. "We are doubling our strength in Badrinath axis and putting even the administrative staff on duty tomorrow," said an ITBP officer. 
    Despite the difficulties, armed forces and ITBP rescued all500 peoplestrandedin and around Gangotri while 350 people of 1,000 stranded in Kedarnath valley around Rambada and Junglechetti 
were airlifted on Saturday. Forces also evacuated 1,550 people from Pandukeshwar while Ghjagaria on the Hemkunt axis was cleared of almost all pilgrims. A total of 61 helicopters were pressed into action. 
    However, only 450 people could be airlifted out of main Badrinath and 700 are still strandedin Yamunotri.Faced with the dual trouble of weather and epidemic, forces have opened new roads on various axes to facilitate rescue by road. 
For the full report, log on to www. timesofindia.com 

An Army man with pilgrims rescued from flood waters on Saturday

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Brace for 6 high tide days from June 23

Mumbai: The BMC is gearing up for six days when the city will witness a high tide of more than 4.5 m starting from Sunday.
    Tides coupled with heavy rain can cause waterlogging in low-lying areas.
    According to civic officials, there will be a high tide on June 23 (4.72 m), June 24 (4.89 m), June 25 (4.97 m), June 26 (4.93 m) June 27 (4.79 m) and June 28 (4.54 m). It is anticipating the same between July 22 and July 26, during which there is a possibility of heavy rain. Civic chief Sitaram Kunte held a meeting with officials on Wednesday to discuss emergency measures.
    "The last two weeks have been tough. The BMC wants to avoid a fiasco and take precautionary measures," said a
civic official. Meanwhile, Regional Transport Office (RTO) personnel have been roped in to be part of the BMC's disaster management team to tackle heavy waterlogging, landslides or building crashes during the monsoon. RTO officials have been asked to report on Friday for a programme on disaster control, said a source.
    "In case of an emergency, we can seek help of agencies and get rescue vehicles to remove debris if building crashes and landslides occur," an official said.
The RTO will also deploy personnel to help the rescue and disaster management teams. The RTO personnel will also assist the police in regulating the flow of traffic during heavy rain. It will also issue warnings, alerts for citizens on its official website.

On June 28, make compassion your passion

 As our lives get more fast-paced and frenetic, we are paying a cost we don't need to pay: increasing disconnection
from our fellow citizens and human beings. A startling ima
ge of such disconnection was played out on national television a couple of months back—when Kanhaiya Lal Raiger's motorbike was hit by a truck inside a road tunnel in Jaipur. His wife and infant daughter lay on the road while Kanhaiya Lal nursed his sobbing five-year-old son and begged passersby for help—to no avail as cars zipped past.
    Those chilling TV images capture a paradox. On the one hand, our communications technology is powerful enough to make millions of people feel
empathy for the unfortunate victims. But on the other, that didn't suffice to get them help in time. Can we do something to bridge this divide? To go beyond the merely transactional and instrumental quality of our relationships to a more caring and humane society that enriches all our lives and makes our public spaces less hostile? And do we in the media have a special responsibility for this? It's what led us to propose, as part of TOI's 'I Lead India' campaign, setting aside June 28—a week from now—as Compassion Day.
    Given the busy lives we lead, all of us may not be able to reach out to the stranger in the street. But a journey of athousand miles can begin with a single step. What about helping out those with whom our daily lives intersect—domestic help, office peons, drivers, security guards, babysitters, gardeners and so on? Can we help them in opening bank accounts or purchasing medical insurance, facilitate a good education for their children, assist them in pursuing a healthy lifestyle?

U’khand disaster plan doesn’t exist, CAG had warned in April

Early Warning System Was Not In Place

As a humongous natural calamity grips Uttarakhand, it is now emerging that the state has had no disaster management plan worth its name despite the region being highly disasterprone due to fragile mountains, tectonic activity and climatic events.
    A Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) released as recently as on April 23 this year says that the State Disaster Management Authority, which was formed in October 2007, has never met till date. Nor has it made any "rules, regulations, policies or guidelines", a preliminary step for the authority to have any functional meaning.

    "The state authorities were virtually non-functional," the report says, referring to the disaster management system, which by definition and law, includes both preparedness as well as response to disasters. "The state disaster management plan was under preparation and actionable programmes were not prepared for various disasters," the report says.
    As if responding to the question whether the recent disaster in Uttarakhand could have been mitigated with the help of early warning, the CAG report says that no plan was prepared for any early warnings. "The communication system was inadequate," the report said.
    As a matter of fact, the
Centre released no funds for the state's disaster management in 2011-12 because there was no accounting of previous funds, the report said.
    Let alone utilizing funds, the state disaster management authority didn't even have
basic personnel in place. At the district level 44% posts in the District Emergency Operations Cells were lying vacant, thus paralyzing emergency response efforts.
60,000 people still stuck in Uttarakhand
Relief operations intensified in rain-battered Uttarakhand on Thursday as rescue workers scrambled to rescue 60,000 people still stranded in various parts of the state. Though the headcount of the dead stands at over 150, even officials feared the toll could run into thousands. Also, almost all national and state highways in the Garhwal region have been badly damaged. P 15 
Over 60,000 people still stranded in flood-hit districts of Uttarakhand
    33,000 people evacuated
and shifted to relief camps
45 aircraft and helicopters as well as over 10,000 troops working to rescue stranded people, provide relief material and restore communication

    Army has also deployed
over 100 special forces troops
in Kedarnath and Sonprayag area, which is cut off
    IAF choppers, which have flown over 150 sorties so far, have airdropped 20,000kg of food and relief material
Officials say it may take 3 years to resume the Char Dham pilgrimage
U'khand also responsible for delay in getting funds from Centre
    There were no master trainers to train staff at the district, block and village level for prevention and mitigation of disasters. No medical personnel were trained in hospital preparedness. What's shocking is that this colossal apathy was despite the fact that 653 persons lost their lives between 2007-8 and 2011-12 in various natural disasters and other hazards. Of these 55% were

lost in landslides and heavy rains. There were 27 major landslides in the state in this period. In 2012 alone, 176 people lost their lives in disasters.
The CAG report draws attention to glaring irregularities in the State Disaster Response Fund. The government is supposed to invest unspent amounts in designated securities. But Uttarakhand did not make the requisite investment ranging from Rs.5.9 crore to Rs.67.2 crore during 2007-8 and 2011-12 resulting in a loss of Rs.9.96 crore.
The state government did not prepare the required Annual Report of Natural Calamity and neither did it submit utilization certificates showing how the funds were spent. The result: delays ranging from 80 to 184 days in release of funds from the central government in the period 2007-2011. Citing examples of the mismanagement by the Uttarakhand government, the CAG said that although the Geological Survey of India had identified 101 villages as 'vulnerable' in June 2008, the state government did not take any measures for their rehabilitation till date.

With the road washed away, ITBP men use ropes to transport stranded pilgrims across raging waters at Govindghat, Chamoli

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

U’khand toll may be in thousands CM Bahuguna Calls It ‘Himalayan Tsunami’; Char Dham Pilgrimage Halted For A Year 70,000 Still Missing, 60 Villages Swept Away, PM Grants 1,000 Crore

Dehradun: As flood waters ebbed and rain fury eased on Wednesday, snatches of Uttarakhand's worst natural disaster began to emerge. The death toll, officially placed at 150 on the basis of a body count, could be frighteningly higher. The estimates were running into thousands. Even chief minister Vijay Bahuguna who described the calamity as a "Himalayan tsunami", said, "Very heavy casualties are feared."
    State home secretary Om Prakash said, "The toll could go much higher as the process of recovery of bodies has not yet started in many places that are marooned." What's raising the fears is the fact that over 70,000 are still missing, and giv
en that rescuers haven't yet been able to reach many ravaged towns what they will discover there is anyone's guess.
    Many of those marooned are pilgrims to the Char Dhams—Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. According to Char Dham Yatri Sangathan convener Varinder Arora, around 25,000 pilgrims remain trapped in Damta alone since Sunday. Damta is 70km from Yamunotri.
    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi flew over the water-ravaged towns and mud-caked villages. The PM has announced a relief package of Rs 1,000 crore. He said what they had seen was horrifying.

    The epicentre of the disaster appeared to be Kedarnath, where the 8th century temple of Lord Shiva was covered under 6 feet of sludge, its surroundings and the 18-km trek to the 3,581-metre sacred spot savaged by landslides and gushing waters. More than 60 villages had been flattened in the vicinity and 90 dharamshalas completely destroyed.

In the aftermath of the severe destruction in Uttarakhand, TOI takes stock of the rescue operations and also examines how the tragedy could have been averted. P 12 

Environmentalists, experts and activists say unplanned development and rampant felling of forests responsible for the scale of disaster
    Series of dams has allegedly upset ecological cycle and hill slope stability
    Forest cover depletion has loosened soil, leading to frequent landslides
    No urban planning led to houses coming up in danger areas in Rudraprayag, Joshimath, Chamoli etc
    Three yrs ago, while auditing hydel projects in Uttarakhand, CAG had warned about severe ecological hazards. Its report ignored
12k stranded in and around Badrinath
    There were no reliable estimates on the number of pilgrims but some accounts said bodies were strewn in and around the Shiva temple complex and 15,000 people were still waiting to be rescued, of them
12,000 in the temple. The heavy downpours
pushed the Mandakini river beyond its banks, flooding over 200 villages along the 18-km trek to the shrine.
    "I saw over 60 bodies flowing in the flash floods and about 200 people whom I personally kn
ow are missing," said Sohan Singh Negi of Kedarnath village, recounting Sunday night's events. He estimated that 25,000 people were still trapped in areas where Army rescuers were yet to reach.
    According to Rakesh Tiwari, assistant DM and his subordinate Rameshwar Dimari, leading the rescue teams on the ground, prominent dharamshalas swept away included the Bharat Se
wa Ashram and Kali Kamli.
    "More than 1,000 people are still missing from Kedarnath town," said Garhwal divisional commissioner Suvardhan. He said casualties from nearby towns like Guptkashi, Kund and Agastya Muni had not even started to be counted. There was also no

news of the 100 priests at the temple and over 1,000 traders at Ram Bada town.
    The devastation spread well beyond Kedarnath to another of the holy shrines on the Char Dham pilgrimage. More than 12,000 pilgrims and villagers were stranded in and around Badrinath. IAF helicopters were ferrying people from there to Gaurikund, where relief camps had been set up.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Rain toll rises to 131, over 73,000 pilgrims stranded Casualties In Thousands, Claims VHP

Dehradun/Shimla: Torrential rains continued to pour in bad news from north India on Tuesday, with flash floods, cloudbursts and landslips claiming 69 more lives and taking the official death toll to 131, making for the most tragic tidings of monsoon in recent years. More than 73,000 pilgrims bound for the Himalayan shrines of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri remained
stranded in Uttarakhand and about 1,700 tourists were stuck in Himachal Pradesh.
    The rains left 102 people dead in Uttarakhand, almost as many injured, and smashed hundreds of houses. The remaining deaths were reported from Himachal Pradesh.

    Based on reports from volunteers on the pilgrim route, the VHP said the toll could be in thousands. Its statement said bodies were strewn around the Kedarnath temple and Ga
uri Kund, from where the trek to Kedarnath commences, had been washed away.
    The worst-hit was Rudraprayag where 20 people drowned and 73 buildings, in
cluding 40 hotels along the banks of Alaknanda, were swept away by the swirling waters of the ice-cold river.
69 lives lost on Tuesday due to flash floods, cloudbursts, landslips
Over 27,000
stuck in Chamoli, 25,000 in Rudraprayag, about 10,000 in Uttarkashi

102 killed so far in Uttarakhand, hundreds of houses reported smashed
Over 500
people reported missing in Kedarnath alone
Himachal CM taken to safety
    Police said seven members of a family, including two minors, died after the hotel they were staying was consumed by the river.
    Char Dham pilgrims, thousands of them from Delhi and surrounding areas, are still stranded due to extensive damage to roads in Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Uttarkashi. Disaster management authorities said more than 27,000 devotees are stuck in Chamoli; 25,000-odd in Rudraprayag; and close to 10,000 in Uttarkashi. Around 10,000 people stuck are travelers and other tourists.
    While security forces were pressed in rescue operations, even some of them have fallen victim to the flood's ferocity. Bodies of three Indo-Tibetan Border Police jawans and two police constables were recovered from the debris at Kedarnath, official sources said. Two IAF helicopters and two private choppers flew sorties in Chamoli district, which is badly hit. Private choppers have been dropping food supplies to people stuck in Pulna and Bundar villages en route to Hemkunt Sahib.
    Two IAF copters ferried hundreds of pilgrims from Kedarnath to Fata helipad
in Rudraprayag. "Chopper services were launched on a war footing with no fresh spell of rain in the morning at most places in Uttarakhand," said SDM, Rudraprayag, L N Mishra.
    A let-up in the rain and a decrease in the water level of the Ganga and its tributaries allowed rescue efforts to pick up pace in flood- and landslidehit areas of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. More than a dozen helicopters were deployed in the two states for relief and rescue operations.
    In Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh was evacuated from Kinnaur district, where he was cut off for nearly 60 hours due to rain
triggered landslides.
    Although three MI-17 helicopters, two of the Indian Army and one of the state government, were deployed, a large number of tourists were trapped in different parts of the district where all roads were blocked following landslides. PWD engineer Pradeep Chauhan said it would take three to four days to clear the roads.
    In UP, an alert was issued after water levels in most rivers touched the danger mark. Three people died in Maharajganj district due to the heavy rain that lashed most parts of the state during the last 24 hours. In Saharanpur, the Army was called in to assist in re
lief and rescue operations. Reports of receding water levels in some major rivers by the evening, however, came as a major relief to the authorities who said the situation would be brought under control by Wednesday afternoon. The Delhi-Palia section of the National Highway near Lakhimpur had to be closed down after it was submerged.
    In Haryana, the water level in the Yamuna started receding but many villages in Yamunanagar and Karnal districts continued to remain water-logged. Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot announced a financial aid of Rs 2 crore to Uttarakhand. According to government sources, at least 800 people from the state were stuck in various districts in Uttarakhand.
    The West Bengal government offered assistance. "I have spoken to the Uttarakhand CM," said West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata. "I have requested him to rescue the tourists and pilgrims from Bengal, stuck mainly in Kedarnath. We are making arrangements for some choppers to airlift them. We have also requested the Uttarakhand government to send the tourists to Delhi, from where we will take care of these people."

A view of the holy town of Kedarnath from a helicopter after it was devastated by floods

Monday, June 17, 2013

Heavy rains lash N. India, 50 killed Landslides In HP, U’khand Leave 20,000 Stranded

New Delhi:While some parts of the country are enjoying early monsoon showers, torrential downpours have sent mounds of earth crashing into homes, uprooting trees and
destroying buildings, especially in the hill states. Overflowing rivers have swallowed vast swathes of north India, leaving at least 50 dead and thousands homeless. Nearly 20,000 people are still trapped in various places because of wrecked roads and bridges.
    Uttarakhand has deferred the Chardham Yatra while the Kailash Mansarovar yatra stands cancelled.

City sees wettest June in 22 years
In a record of sorts, the city has received the highest rainfall since 1991 for the June 1-16 period with Colaba recording 748.9mm and Santa Cruz 755.8mm. In comparison, in 1991, the entire month had logged 905.8mm of rain. P 2 
Record rains wreak havoc in U'khand
New Delhi: Met office in Dehradun said rains in June have broken an 88-year record. By Sunday, the Uttarakhand capital had received 220 mm of rains, which blocked the NH-58. As many as 123 roads in Garhwal, too, have been blocked, a PWD official said.
    "Fearing further rain and landslides, the Char Dham Yatra and Hemkund Sahib trek have been stopped," an official told news agencies. Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel have fanned out to evacuate people trapped in Kedarnath and Gaurikund. An Uttarakhand government official said a private helicopter and more than 200 two-wheelers at Govindghat near Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara were swept away due to flash floods in Alakanda. "Those stranded in the hills are being shifted to colleges and schools for medical care and food. ," said a senior IAS officer in Dehradun.
    Uttarakhand CM Vijay Bahuguna said leaves of all government employees have been cancelled and seven private helicopters and one state chopper are being used for rescue. In Himachal Pradesh's Kinnaur district, nine people came under a landslide that blocked roads, leaving chief minister Virbhadra Singh stranded in Sangla Valley. More than 1,000 tourists were marooned in various places, including 800 in Sangla, where heavy rains have obstructed rescue work. About 25 foreigners and a Doordarshan team are still wedged in Kinnaur, according to district authorities.
    "Over 700 people, including CM Virbhadra Singh campaigning for Mandi Lok Sabha bypolls were stranded in Sangla valley and army's help has been sought," said chief secretary S Roy. Heavy rains in Haryana, particularly Yamunanagar, caused floods and Yamuna rose menacingly, prompting authorities to sound "high alert" in Karnal, Panipat and Sonepat. Several low-lying villages were inundated after heavy rainfall hit Yamuna and its catchment areas — a rise that coincided with over eight lakh cusecs water flowing through the Hathni Kund barrage early Monday morning, taking the river's level close to the danger mark in Delhi.
    At least 50 people have gone missing after a cloudburst in Rambada, Uttarakhand, officials said. The worst hit areas are Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi where the Mandakini flows unbridled. Her waters have entered the mar
ket area in Rambada.
    In Yamunanagar, Haryana, 72 people including 20 children and 15 women, stranded for over 12 hours after torrential rains flooded their villages, were rescued on Monday by the army and the IAF in a joint operation.
    Though the monsoon promises prospects of a copious farm output that would help restrain inflation, the Centre as well as Uttarakhand, Haryana, HP and UP governments will be grappling with a widening arc of human tragedy as the country gears up for four major assembly elections this year and the general elections before the next monsoon.

Mumbai navy men among those stranded
Mumbai: A group of 20 naval personnel from Mumbai was among the pilgrims who were stranded in Badrinath since the cloudburst two days ago. "The group from Mumbai comprises navy staff and their families. They had booked an eight-day tour with their families and were expected to embark on the last leg of their tour in Rishikesh on Monday before returning to Mumbai. However, the heavy downpour has forced them to stay put in their hotel in Badrinath," said Omprakash Badoni, chief public relations officer of Uttarakhand Tourism, Mumbai.
    Officials in Mumbai as well as Joshimath said that since Sunday, communication to Badrinath was cut off as roads crumbled in the wake of the deluge, power lines snapped and phone cables broke.
    "No landline or cellphone lines are functioning in that pilgrim town. However, we know the tourists are safe. We are hoping the rain subsides so the roads reopen and the stranded people can be rescued," said Satish Khanduri, a tourism officer in Rishikesh. TNN

A part of a road is washed away after a landslide near Hemkunt Sahib in Chamoli, Uttarakhand

DEADLY FLOW: Flood water from Alaknanda river destroys buildings in Uttrakhand on Monday. Monsoon woes gripped several parts of North India on Monday as heavy rain wreaked havoc in the hill states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, leaving over 50 people dead and hundreds stranded

72 stranded villagers, including 20 children, were rescued in Yamuna Nagar, Haryana

Waterlogging near Vijay Chowk in New Delhi

A submerged bridge on the road to Kedarnath Valley in Rudraprayag

A student carries her two-wheeler on a rickshaw after heavy rains in Lucknow

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