In Dehradun: 3-man team from Karnataka

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Bengaluru: A special team from Karnataka, which reached Dehradun on Wednesday, has managed to contact 120 victims from the state who are stranded in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
 
A team of three senior officials — DIG Hemanth Nimbalkar, Social Welfare Commissioner Naveenraj Singh and Karigowda from the Mines and Geology Department — has reached Dehradun and set up a Helpdesk for the victims fromKarnataka. The team held meetings with the district administration in Dehradun on Wednesday.
 
“We have established a help desk at Dehradun and are trying to get the information on victims from the state. So far, over 100 people have been able to contact us. We are plotting escape routes from rain-affected areas. The new helpline number for the victims from Karnataka —+919412574052 — will be operational from Wednesday night," said DIG Nimbalkar.
 
The district administration is currently concentrating on the victims stranded in areas of extreme danger, who cannot receive food and other supplies. By Thursday, we will be able to contact more victims. A team of officials has also been stationed at the Karnataka Bhavan in New Delhi,” added the DIG
 
Meanwhile, the seven students who went on a biking expedition in Manali are still missing and last contacted their parents in Bengaluru on Friday. Six were on motorbikes, while one boy, Karthik Patil used a private vehicle to reach Manali.
 
A disaster that could have been avoided
 

The South West Monsoon’s marathon run in 2013 caused the natural disaster that has left thousands of people stranded for five days.
 
The SWM, which usually enters the Kerala coast through Andamans and Nicobar reaches the northern parts of the country by July 17th. In 2013, the monsoon has managed to reach the northern tip in just 16 days.
 
“This has left devastation in the northern parts of the country. The Indian Meteorological Dep­artment (IMD) followed the advancement of the monsoon and many places and anticipated the early onset. The advancement of monsoon is usually associated with climate disasters like cloud bursts and cyclones. A high-altitude cloud burst took place, causing flash floods and land slides,” explained an official from the IMD, New Delhi.
 
The IMD also claimed that district administrations in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh ignored the advancement of SWM rains and allowed pilgrims and tourists to venture into high-altitude areas.
 
“Trekking and other expeditions in the mountains of Himachal Pradesh are usually banned from July, when the monsoons usually set in. If authorities had followed the monsoon advancement pattern, they could have lessened the disaster to a large extent,” opined the IMD official.
 
Meanwhile. climate change experts said that several weather models had predicted the eccentric rainfall conditions in many parts of the country.
 
"The increase in the quantity of rain was predicted by several weather models which study the rainfall data of India. In fact, a weather model has predicted an increase in rainfall in South India over the next 15 years. Unseasonable rainfall, cloud bursts and long period of draught are all consequences of climate change,” said a climatologist from IISc.
 
The situation is grim and could worsen: Army
 

The Army and the Air Force, who are overseeing rescue operations in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, have pronounced the situation “grim” and say it could worsen.
 
An official from the Western Air Command said that more choppers will be called in for rescue operations and priority is being given to victims in dangerous locations like cliffs and river banks. Pilgrims stranded close to villages have been getting food packets from the choppers.
 
“We are trying to provide the stranded population with food and medicine and setting up generators wherever we can land. But there are hundreds of victims who have been stranded for three days in locations our choppers are unable to reach,” said the official. The government called in the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) to Kedarnath on Wednesday.
 
Meanwhile, the IAF has sought help from the Sarang helicopter team, in Solur, TN. Six ALH helicopters flew to rain-affected areas on Wednesday to assist the Op Rahat in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. “We are using 15 choppers for rescue operations at the moment. This number will increase to 20 on Thursday,” the official added.
 
Rescue teams have been facing major problem in the building of bridges to evacuate stranded people. “Unless one bridge is complete, the vehicles cannot proceed, neither can bridge construction cannot continue. This is is delaying the evacuation,” said a rescue official.
 
Families flock to uttarakhand helpdesk
 

A day after the state government set up the help desk for the families of victims who are stranded in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, several relatives thronged to it to submit the details of their missing family members. Some family members called on City Police Commissioner Jyothi Prakash Mirji on Wednesday to submit the copies of missing members.
 
Most of the family members have not heard from their relatives stranded in rain affected areas for the last five days. A team of seven engineering students from Bengaluru continues to go missing. One of the members of the team had telephoned his parents on Friday last.  K J George, Home Minister of the state has despatched a team of officials from Karnataka to the rain affected Uttarakhanad and Himachal Pradesh on Wednesday.
 
"The team has details of few missing persons from Karnataka. We have received complaints from families in Koppal, Bijapur, Raichur and Bengaluru. The team of officials will assist the victims from Karnataka for their safe return,"  George said.  Meanwhile, franctic attempts by the parents and relatives to reach their kin who are stranded went in vain.
 
"We are trying to communicate through their cell phones and social networking websites, but we are getting no response. There is no clarity about the situation out there and the state government must send a dedicated team of officials to find out how many people from the state are actually stranded," said one of the parents who met the City Commissioner on Tuesday.

 

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