A DAY after a glacial burst triggered a flood on the Rishiganga river in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli, at least 171 people, mostly labourers working at two power projects that were destroyed, are still missing with 26 bodies recovered, officials said. Union Power Minister R K Singh, who visited the site, said the devastation has caused an estimated damage of Rs 1,500 crore to government infrastructure.
Uttarakhand DGP Ashok Kumar said that a massive search and rescue operation is underway in the region with bodies recovered from several locations, including Tapovam, Karnaprayag and Kaleshwar in Chamoli district and Koteshwar in Rudraprayag.
One spot that rescuers are focusing on is the tunnel of the NTPC power project that is under construction in the Tapovan area where at least 35 people are believed to be trapped. “ITBP, NDRF and Army personnel were engaged in the operation. The removal of debris is being done along an 180-metre stretch,” said Aparna Kumar, DIG, ITBP, Dehradun sector.
Apart from R K Singh, Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat and Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank were among those who inspected the Tapovan area and took stock of the operations. “More than the loss to infrastructure, it’s the loss of life that is the core concern now,” Singh said.
Rawat, meanwhile, held a meeting with state officials and directed that the supply of essential goods be maintained by helicopters in villages disconnected after several bridges were damaged. Markets in the Tapovan areas remain closed and people were asked to stay away from the river catchment area.
The ITBP, sources said, has launched relief operations in villages cutoff by the floods. Ration and other essentials have been airdropped in these villages through Monday, sources said.
“Beyond Raini bridge, which was swept away by the floods, nine villages have been cut off. Choppers are dumping ration from Joshimath in the general area of Raini. A control room has also been established for assistance,” an ITBP officer said.
Almost 300 personnel of ITBP and five units of NDRF, along with SDRF personnel and the Indian Army, were engaged in rescue work.
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