Despite the fact that a large number of tourists from Gujarat had gone to Uttarakhand,the state government made its first offer of help on June 19,three days after the cloud burst and heavy floods ravaged the pilgrim centres there,according to a briefing given by Chief Minister Narendra Modi to Governor Dr Kamala. As per an estimate given by the state government,over 5,000 people from Gujarat had gone to Uttarakhand.
Modi on Friday reportedly submitted a three-page report (a copy available with The Indian Express) to the Governor,who had called his office in the morning to seek updates on the situation.
An official release by the state Information Department,however,only said the CM briefed Governor about the steps it is taking to help Gujaratis stranded there.
According to the report,the Gujarat government first contacted its Uttarakhand counterpart to gather preliminary information on June 16,when the cloud burst triggered heavy floods at Kedarnath. However,following the failure of communication system in Uttarakhand,that did not help much.
On June 19,when the magnitude of the tragedy became clear,the CM called up his counterpart,Vijay Bahuguna,and offered all possible help.
Modi sent a cheque of Rs 2 crore to the Uttarakhand government from Chief Ministers Relief Fund. A seven-member team led by Relief Commissioner Poonamchand Parmar were also dispatched to start a relief camp in Uttarakhand.
The report said while one team was camping in Dehradun,another was operating out of Shantikunj Aashram in Rishikesh run by Gayatri Parivar,where rescued tourists were offered food and lodging,besides medical services.
So far,the state government has names of just seven people from Gujarat who are feared dead,but it is in the process of confirming the same with the Uttarakhand government. The Gujarat government has been able to confirm just one death from the state so far. Meanwhile,on Friday,the state government started special flights and buses between Dehradun and Ahmedabad to bring back the stranded tourists. A 17-seater aircraft was to bring the first batch of rescued tourists in the evening. The same plane will fly again to bring back the second batch,if required.
A bigger airplane with a capacity of 135 seats is expected to operate on Saturday. A tourism department official,who is at present at Rishikesh,said the camp there has 500-odd people,many of them Gujaratis.
We are also making arrangements to send them by buses,which will start Saturday morning to reach Ahmedabad via Surat and Vadodara, the official said,adding that their helpline had received complaints of around 100 people still missing. Besides,10 buses from Vadodara and Ahmedabad have also been sent to Uttarakhand with food supplies.