Updated: February 10, 2021 12:30:11 pm
AS OFFICERS descended towards the Rishi Ganga bank in Raini village, they prayed they do not sink in the heavy sludge left behind by the flash floods that washed away the hydro power plant at the site.
Tense moments ensued, before a team of five people was finally able to make its way across the river, which at present is just a trickle. The mission was simple – to establish contact with villages that have been cut off from the rest of the Chamoli district by land. These 13 villages lead to the country’s border with China. A zip line is being set up to send emergency supplies and to bring people to the other side of the river in case of medical emergencies.
At Raini village, the first of the 13 villages that could be accessed from the suspension bridge that was washed away on Sunday, residents stood on rooftops attempting to catch a glimpse of the rescue operations as helicopters flew past, trying to reach villages further away.
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According to ITBP officials, the India-China border is around 130 km from Raini village.
SDRF officials said there has been good coordination despite no road connectivity as armed forces are present this time around.
“Usually the Army and ITBP personnel descent to Malari village during this time but this year they have remained near the border. This has meant better coordination,” said Navneet Singh, SRDF commandant in the area who coordinated the efforts to reestablish contact with villages.
The Niti village in the Niti Valley is the last village before the ITBP posts.
At the Paing village, meanwhile, there has been no electricity for two days now. Most young people travel long distances to work in areas such as Tapovan and Joshimath. Most children live in Joshimath for schooling.
Heera Devi’s in-laws were left behind in Paing village when the flood cut all contact. “There is no electricity in the village and we can’t speak to anyone as they have not been able to charge their phones. We are very worried,” she said.
According to Bhavan Rana, the pradhan of Raini village, a total of around eight people are missing from various villages in and around the power plant.
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