Chandigarh, June 23, 2013: On the directions of the Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, the state government has undertaken all out efforts to ensure smooth relief and rescue operations by shifting nearly 4700 Punjab pilgrims so far from Kedarnath, Badrinath and Govind Ghat in Uttarakhand safely to their respective destination across the state.
According to a spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office, Badal himself was personally reviewing the progress of the entire relief and rehabilitation process and was in constant touch with the Civil and Army authorities in Uttarakhand.
It may be recalled that the Punjab Government had already stationed two teams comprising Secretary Housing and Urban Development A. Venu Prasad, Director State Transport Sumer Singh Gurjar, DIG Khubi Ram and Commandant Rakesh Kaushal at Rishikesh and another consisting of DGSE Kahan Singh Pannu, MD Punjab State Cooperative Bank Kamaldeep Singh Sangha besides a DSP and Inspector who joined them yesterday at Joshimath. These teams were keeping Badal updated from time to time.
Giving the details of relief operations, the spokesperson said that out of 95 Buses, 71 of Punjab Roadways and 24 of Punjab Police have so far transported nearly 4700 pilgrims from Uttarakhand to Punjab at different headquarters, from where they were received by the Deputy Commissioners and sent to their homes directly in private taxis at state administration's expense.
As many as 60 Mini Buses of the Punjab Police dispatched from Rishikesh to Joshimath on Saturday and another 36 Mini Buses/Trax Vehicles were pressed into service to Joshimath today, of which Six Mini Buses of Punjab Police had reached Rishikesh from Joshimath and another 23 Mini Buses carrying about 450 passengers were on the way from Joshimath to Rishikesh till the filling of the press note. These vehicles were likely to be slightly delayed due to a blockade following the landslide between Chamoli and Srinagar and subsequently they were following an alternate route. As per available information at 5 PM today, no pilgrim was awaiting evacuation neither at Joshimath and nor any transportation from Rishikesh.
On the directions of the Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who also holds the portfolio of Home, has directed the DGP to immediately send two special platoons comprising 60 policemen, 40 drivers and 16 other miscellaneous help under the DIG Khubi Ram and Gautam Cheema to evacuate pilgrims stranded beyond Joshimath. These platoons would also carry ambulances and 15 Xylo/Scorpio and two canters besides 10 mountaineering, search and rescue trained personnel.
Sukhbir Singh Badal also asked the DGP to extend all possible help and cooperation to the Civil and Army authorities for the safe evacuation of the pilgrims trapped in Uttrakhand on the priority. He categorically said that the state government would leave no stone unturned until each and every pilgrim was safely brought from Uttrakhand to Punjab.
The Punjab Government had already hired the services of private helicopter to bring out the pilgrims from Uttrakhand Valley especially from Govind Ghat, Badrinath and Kedarnath and the same was carrying out evacuation operations in full swing under the command of Army authorities till the receipt of last reports. The helicopter has so far made 66 sorties resulting in the evacuation of 212 passengers besides sending more than 400 kg of relief material, food and water and 100 kg of rope to cross over the river.
Highly appreciating the role of Punjab Police in this hour of crisis, the Chief Minister asked the police personnel to work with far more missionary zeal in tandem with civil administration to mitigate the sufferings of the pilgrims who were still trapped there in Uttrakhand.
As many as 10 Ambulances of the Punjab Health Department besides two of Punjab Police equipped with doctors and paramedics had reached Rishikesh. Of them five have been stationed at Rishikesh and the rest has been pressed into service at Srinagar, Chamoli and Joshimath to render medical rendered medical aid to the pilgrims, who needed such assistance.