Incessant rains stalls debris removal at Kedarnath

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Dehradun, July 20: Over a month has passed since the worst-ever natural calamity hit Uttarakhand but the exercise of removing tonnes of debris lying at Kedarnath shrine which bore the brunt of the tragedy and the adjoining structures continues to be hampered due to lack of heavy equipment and bad weather.

A majority of the members of teams despatched to the high altitude shrine for the purpose have returned without making much headway due to incessant rains and lack of equipment needed to remove the huge volume of debris lying in the area.

“The combined team of doctors, PWD and NDRF men have not been able to dispose of any more bodies for the last three days. They disposed of two bodies four days back with all necessary rituals but there has been no disposal of bodies since then as proper removal of debris has not yet started owing to bad weather and lack of heavy equipment,” Uttarakhand DGP Satyavrat Bansal told PTI.

He said nothing can be done there until the debris is removed which is proving to be an onerous task amid inclement weather, which is making chopper operation impossible, damaged roads and lack of proper equipment.

Removal of debris from damaged structures close to the shrine is another headache as they may cave in under the impact of heavy equipment to be used for the purpose risking the lives of personnel engaged in the exercise, he said.

While efforts are on to take necessary safeguards against such possibilities, the State government is planning to rope in MI-26 aircraft to transport heavy equipment like dozers to the Himalayan shrine to help take up debris removal exercise on a war footing, an official here said.

These heavy equipment will be dismantled before being loaded in the aircraft and will be assembled once they reach the shrine, he said.

Pressure on the State government for having the debris cleared at the shrine, which is necessary to pave the way for start of regular prayers there is mounting with UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi having asked Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna on the phone on Friday to speed up the process.

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