First batch of Telugus to reach Dehradun today

First batch of Telugus  to reach Dehradun today
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Hyderabad: The first batches of Telugu pilgrims stranded in Kedarnath are expected to be airlifted to...

dehradunHyderabad: The first batches of Telugu pilgrims stranded in Kedarnath are expected to be airlifted to Dehradun before Thursday afternoon. They are to be part of about 450 people from all over the country but there is no possibility of knowing exactly how many of them could be Telugus.

Two officials of different teams involved in the relief work told The Hans India over telephone from Haridwar and Dehradun that the people, including Telugus, had already been shifted from Kedarnath to nearest places where cell towers were located so that they could recharge their mobiles and communicate with their families.

In fact the helicopters pressed into operations since Tuesday afternoon had so far rescued a few hundreds, some of whom were carried to Haridwar, but they included none from the state, the officials said. Air lifting was slated to be picked up further from Thursday. The downpour was no more but the non availability of flat and clear spaces where the copters could land was hampering the job, the officials said.

Nevertheless in the last 48 hours the Army and Disaster management staff of Uttarakhand state were toiling hard creating small patches for copter landing and also clearing roads for vehicular movement. The teams deputed by the Andhra Pradesh government were receiving regular calls from groups of pilgrims from Yamunotri shrine area.

According to the team members while one call said they were about 50 people stranded in some place, another said they were 160 and a third one 12 so far and so forth. In all the two teams based at Haridwar and Dehradun got more than 300 calls during the day. The message was they were all safe and no more faced any threat. They either located themselves or were reached by authorities, including Army, to different places and were receiving the basic necessities. Next they were anxiously awaiting their evacuation which may take a few more days to be completed, considering the gigantic nature of transporting an estimated 70,000 pilgrims belonging to different states.

Meanwhile the team of AP officials dispatched to Haridwar left the place for Dehradun by late evening on Wednesday. One of the team members told Hans India there was "nothing more to do here". They will continue the job at Dehradun since that town has emerged to be centre of relief activity.

Meanwhile, another official based at the AP Bhavan in New Delhi said one Nandu called them them to inform that their batch of about 160 people was stranded at Nala Pani, 23 kms from Uttar Kashi. Another batch of 50 pilgrims from Kurnool was at Gaurikund. A third group of 12 women belonging to Visakhapatnam informed the AP Bhavan that they were taken to a rescue camp near Kedarnath. However it was not clear if the group was an all-women one or was part of a larger group.

Similarly, one Naresh Chaudary of Hyderabad told them that two batches of pilgrims comprising 90 and 26 people respectively, all who had gone from the city, were at Haridwar. K S Sastry and 14 others lodged themselves at Mandakini hotel in Uttar Kashi. All these batches said they were safe. Meanwhile, senior IAS officer Sanjay Kumar, who was deputed from Hyderabad to Uttarakhand to help coordinate things in evacuation of pilgrims from the state said the situation in the flood-hit areas continued to be grim and things were moving on a tardy pace due to inhospitable conditions.

"A total of 450 pilgrims from all the states were air-lifted from Kedarnath on Wednesday. We don't have any specific information on the number of Telugu people rescued from there. Although 16 choppers were pressed into service, some of them were used for air-dropping of food packets. More than 6,000 kilos of food packs have been air dropped alongside the road to Kedar, Badrinath. Doctors were also sent but they could not reach the affected areas due to road blocks" he told The Hans India from Dehradun.

It was not raining on Wednesday and the personnel from the Army along with Air Force, Indo-Tibetan Boarder Police and National Disaster Management labored hard to clear the route and made way for vehicles to move. The rescue work had to be stopped at 5 pm due to bad light and helicopters were also withdrawn. In Himalayan region, nothing can be done from evening, the officer said.

"Most of the Telugu pilgrims were reported to be stranded on roads between Uttara Kashi to Gaurikund up to Yamunotri. Hundreds were said to be in make-shift shelters in some hamlets along the hillside. It is difficult to identify where the yatris from AP are mostly located. Though it is just four kilometers from Dehradun to reach Uttar Kashi, we are unable to move an inch forward due to heavy jam" he explained. "We are in the process of locating the Telugu people and making arrangements to ferry them to Dehradun. By Thursday afternoon, I think we can do some headway" Sanjay said.

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