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A fresh lease of life

A fresh  lease of life
Highlights

Pilgrims who return to Vijayawada, Vizag, Ongole, Warangal and Secunderabad spit fire against Uttarakhand...

  • Pilgrims who return to Vijayawada, Vizag, Ongole, Warangal and Secunderabad spit fire against Uttarakhand Govt.
  • Administration indifferent to their plight
  • Two parotas cost Rs 250, water bottle Rs 200

Govts left us to die

A few hundred pilgrims from different parts of the State who had gone to Uttarakhand, after spending several days of untold agony there because of the flood fury, returned to Vijayawada, Vizag, Ongole, Warangal and Secunderabad by trains on Saturday and poured out their venom against that State administration. They blasted both the Central Government and the state (AP) administration for their 'failure' to act promptly in going to the rescue of the suffering victims.

The delay in taking action to aid those in distress only added to the misery of those stranded there. This also led to their exploitation. The piligrims were particularly angry with the district administration for being indifferent to their plight. Left to fend for themselves, the pilgrims alleged that because of the officials' laxity traders had fleeced them. The pilgrims also accused local travel agents of fleecing them, charging three times the normal fare, taking advantage of their helplessness.

First batch of pilgrims from Kedarnath arrives in Hyderabad

Celebrations in the air

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Hyderabad: About 60 city based pilgrims who were stranded in Uttarakhand floods, returned safely to the city by the Andhra Pradesh Express on Saturday evening. It turned out to be an occasion of celebration for their kith and kin. Friends too gathered at the railway station in a big way. Those who arrived were garlanded and accorded a warm reception. They distributed sweets on the occasion.

Most of them, who survived the Himalayan tragedy, said they got a fresh lease of life. Everyone has a tale of his own for his children and grand children. Janardhan Rao of Domalguda said that the vehicle along with his family in which he visited Uttarakhand was trapped while returning from Gangothri. "We were sheltered in a hotel at Uttara Kashi. " It was all a nightmare and hard to forget" recollected Rao.

Krishna of Nallagutta in Secunderabad and Kharkhana resident Rajeshwar Rao along their family members were among those returned safely from Uttarakhand in the same train. They sounded highly critical of the response of the Uttarakhand government to the plight of the pilgrims. Many others recounted the tragic episodes of their pilgrimage. Most of them flayed the the local administration for the poor management of the shrines and poor facilities at the temple towns.

They said that the local businessmen hiked the prices of commodities such as water bottles, eatables and many other goods. They claimed that they experienced untold hardships for the past five days. They said that they found it tough to communicate with the rescue as they know only Hindi. Some of them said that they were helped by personal assistant of Vice President for National Disaster Management Authority (NMDA), Marri Shashidhar Reddy, while others complained that they were not offered any support by Mr Reddy and his office.

A section of pilgrims who hired the services a private tourist operator, were all praise for its personnel. A boy named Harish Kumar working with the organisation helped us greatly. He walked over 50 kms to shift the pilgrims from Uttarakashi to Batwada where they were stranded. The boy appeared to be god-sent for them. AP Govt to arrange helicopter for stranded devotees

Andhra Pradhesh government seemed to have started its efforts for bringing back the victims of Uttarakhand floods to the state. Labour Minster Danam Nagendar on Saturday said that the government was trying to arrange a special helicopter to shift the stranded pilgrims from Uttarakhand flood affected areas. He along with Union Minister Balaram Naik and Civil Supplies Minister D Sridhar Babu visited Dehradun for consoling the victims from the state.

He claimed that he had discussed with Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy over the shifting of the victims. The government is planning to arrange a helicopter in order to air-lift the pilgrims, immediately.

Emotional welcome at Vijayawada

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Vijayawada: Around 100 pilgrims from the district on Saturday returned here safely from the devastating floods in Uttarakhand. The South Central Railway officials arranged special seats in Kerala Express for the pilgrims. Family members and a huge crowd had gathered at the railway station to welcome them. They broke downs on seeing their dear ones back on their home soil.

Groups of pilgrims had started in three busses from Goravaram, Machilipatnam and Jaggiahpeta on June 8. They reached Haridwar safely on June 12 and got stuck there on the way to Uttarakasi. Passengers explained their vulnerable situation. Satyam and Savithri from Gowravaram said 'we were stuck in a travels bus for more than five days without food. We survived for three days only on tea and biscuits, as no other foodstuff was available'.

'Several policemen and armymen declined to help a sick man who had low BP problem'. However, the saving grace was the advise by locals who suggested that we avoid staying in lodges, as they were collapsing under flood fury'. 'Heavy floods caused collapse of roads and buildings, which were seen falling on TV channels falling. Many passengers whom we saw earlier were drowned in the flooded river. We almost lost hope and prayed God to help us. The army saved us and helped in reaching Delhi.

Hari Babu, an RTC conductor, said "we all stayed in a lodge at Uttarakashi. Some villagers warned us that floods are going to destroy the place. We ran up and climbed a hill to save our lives. We all are thankful to the tribals of Uttarakhand who supported us and supplied food and medicines." Telugu Desam Party Vijayawada Parliamentary constituency in-charge Kesineni Srinivas (Nani) welcomed the pilgrims and arranged transport to reach home.

Kudos to army

40 people safely reach Ongole

ap3Ongole: A batch of 40 pilgrims returned here on Saturday after having a harrowing time during their Uttarakhand yatra. They said they had faced a nightmarish experience for two days getting stranded on a narrow ghat road. They said the army jawans were risking their lives to save and shift the stranded pilgrims to safety. One pilgrim, Lakshmi, told The Hans India that they had spent two days in the grip of fear, not knowing what would happen next minute.

"We shared the little food we had with other pilgrims from other States. The army jawans came, rescued us and shifted us to Haridwar from where we came to Delhi. We took a train and reached here on Saturday, thanking our stars," she said. Another pilgrim said following the pressure mounted by the media, with their minute-to-minute reporting, the Centre and the governments of Uttrakhand and Andhra Pradesh had arranged relief and rescue operations. "We should thank the media and army jawans for facilitating our safe return to our native place."

Pilgrims pour out their woes to kith and kin

Warangal: For the pilgrims who returned here from 'Chardham pilgrimage' it was a joyful reunion, albeit, it was marked with pain. The pain, which was caused by the hours of nightmarish experience undergone by the scores of pilgrims at Kedarnath and its surroundings, was visible on their faces. A group of pilgrims who reached here on Saturday by AP Express shared their woes with their kin and also with the media. About 30 passengers arrived by AP Express; another group reached by GT Express followed by a special train bound for Hyderabad which is expected to arrive after midnight.

Relatives and scores of leaders thronged the Kazipet railway station minutes before the distressed pilgrims set their foot at their home City for a warm welcome. Local MLA Dasyam Vinay Bhaskar was also present to receive them. His team distributed food and water packets to the tired passengers who arrived by the train and also to those proceeding to Hyderabad. Bhaskar urged the Central and the State governments to help the stranded pilgrims on their way back to native places.

Desperate to hear from survivors

ap4Visakhapatnam: While Uttarakhand Government claims that the rescue operations are being taken up on a war-footing some of relatives of those stranded on the Haridwar hills are awaiting a phone call from their dear ones. About 1,200 pilgrims from different parts of Visakhapatnam district went on the yatra in separate groups. Around 20 elderly women from Munagapaka mandal were taken by a tour operator Sairam. They left on June 6 and till June 13 there was regular communication from them.

After the calamity, three of the 20 pilgrims were admitted to Himalaya Hospital at Dehra Dun. They were airlifted and left to their fate. Lakshmi called her son, Ananda Rao, asking him to send Rs 10,000 for medical expenses incurred. Rao who works in the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, says he is "ready to send the money". But the question is to whom and where"?. He requests the State and the Central Governments to help his mother. Another woman, Kedaralaxmi, from the same village, says her mother-in-law's whereabouts are not known.

While some stranded pilgrims are returning with horrifying tales, poor villagers, most of them illiterates, do not know whom to approach. Kedaralaxmi says after local Tahsildar collected details of the pilgrims no action has been taken. Prasad Rao and his wife who had gone to Uttarakhand to immerse a family member's ashes, said the driver of their cab had saved their lives since he refuses to move because he was tired. We took rest for the night.'We were also advised to stop as a bride ahead had collapsed.'

'We got scared as the loose soil was giving in to flood waters and a tree got uprooted. Lack of communication and inadequate facilities only added to our woes. On the way we came to know about the tragedy but did not know of the high death toll. Only God saved us.' Some pilgrims are returning to Vizag on their own to reveal their nightmares. The first batch reached here by Samatha Express on Saturday evening. More are expected tomorrow. But those who have no connection with their families are still in hundreds. The relatives are keeping their fingers crossed, hoping for their safety

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