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SC tells Centre, U'khand to provide immediate relief

NEW DELHI, June 20, 2013, DHNS:

Need of the hour: Court wants authorities to deploy more copters for rescue operations

Former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhariyal interacting with pilgrims near flood-hit Kedarnath shrine in Rudraprayag on Thursday. PTI Photo

The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Centre and the Uttarakhand government to provide immediate relief, including food and medicine, to thousands of people who are stranded in the hill state following flash floods.

A bench of justices A K Patnaik and Ranjan Gogoi also told the authorities to deploy adequate number of helicopters to rescue the 70,000-odd people stuck in the region. Roads and houses have been washed away in cloud-bursts, floods and land slides.

“We direct as an interim measure that all stranded people be provided immediate relief by the state and district authorities by giving them food, medicines and other essential things including fuel,” the bench said. The court was hearing a PIL filed by Delhi-based advocate Ajay Bansal.

The petitioner cited media reports that about 70,000 people were stranded in the state. He claimed on the basis of a phone call received from one of his colleagues that the “administration was not looking after the people in the Gangotri area.”

He pointed out a news report alleging that a group of people allegedly paid Rs 20 lakh on June 19 for their rescue which was “really shocking as the poor are left to die and rich and affluent may escape with their influence and money power.”

Bansal alleged that even after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a package of Rs 1,000 crore for the state, no concrete steps were taken for the protection of life and liberty of the affected citizens.

Taking up his plea, the court asked the Centre and the National Disaster Management Authority to provide all resources to the state government. The court also asked the Centre to submit a report detailing the relief and rehabilitation measures undertaken in the state on June 25, when the case will be taken up for further hearing.

Thousands of pilgrims are reported to be stranded in the region and whereabouts of hundred others were still not known even as the official toll was 150 only.

According to the Uttarakhand government, it would take two to three years to rebuild the damaged roads, houses and other establishments.


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