Uttarakhand bans states from mounting unilateral rescue work

Uttarakhand bans states from mounting unilateral rescue work

In an attempt to thwart any moves by political parties to gain mileage out of the Uttarakhand tragedy, the state government has decided to stop other states from carrying out unilateral rescue and relief operations.

The move by the state Congress government comes after claims by Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi that he had rescued 15,000 stranded pilgrims from his state.
Officially at least, the state government maintains that the decision is to streamline rescue efforts, as agencies are racing against time to save thousands stranded on the hills. The met department predicts rain for the next three days that could trigger fresh landslides.

“There has been confusion after some state governments took separate initiatives to rescue their own people. From now onwards, there will be single coordination channel which will be monitored by the Uttarakhand government for rescue operations," a senior official said.

Several chief ministers, including Haryana CM Bhupinder Hooda, are offering either their own choppers, aircrafts or free trains for people of their states to move out of the disaster zone.

Modi, who had conducted an aerial survey after he was denied permission to visit the flood hit areas, had chartered a flight to ferry Gujarati pilgrims back to Ahmedabad. He had also taken his team of bureaucrats to oversee rescue operation as taxis were also deployed to ferry pilgrims to the airport for speedy evacuation.

His move had come in for sharp criticism, with Congress terming it as an attempt to become fictional character ‘Rambo’. Even finance minister P Chidambaram, in a veiled comment, remarked that real heroes are jawans and not politicians.

The Uttarakhand government has also decided to facilitate hiring of private taxis in the state to check operators fleecing pilgrims desperate to get out of the state.
According to reports, tour operators are charging astronomical fares for moving harried passengers.