At a time when there are reports of shopkeepers fleecing victims by charging Rs 180-Rs 200 for a bottle of water,a group of youngsters have set up 24-hour relief camps on the way from Rishikesh to Kedarnath and Badrinath. They are providing free medical aid,food and water to people who have been rescued from Kedarnath and Badrinath.
Shopkeepers from Dehradun,Rishikesh and Devprayag too have joined hands in the hour of crisis and set up relief camps that operate from 6 am to 2 am. Buses,trucks and private vehicles carrying flood victims stop at these camps where they are provided with free medical aid and food.
Dharmender Bishnoi,a businessman from Dehradun,said shopkeepers from the state capital have hired trucks and loaded them with relief materials. They have started setting up relief camps on 180-km stretch between Rishikesh and Kedarnath.
We contacted local shopkeepers in Rishikesh,Byasi,Devprayag,Srinagar and Joshimath. All of them joined hands with us in setting up relief camps. We all pooled in the raw material,started cooking food on the roadside and chose bus stops and roadside shops to set up camps, said Durgesh Panchpuri,a shopkeeper in Devprayag.
Yogesh Bhatt,a shopkeeper from Byasi,said pharmacists are working in shifts to help those who need medical aid. Buses are fetching people from places like Joshimath,Srinagar and Kedarnath. We have kept biscuits,sweets,chips for the children,medicines for the ill,food and water. We are also assisting the drivers who are bringing stranded people to the mainland, he said.
The road to Kedarnath is being repaired and vehicles ply for a couple for hours every day. The road link to Badrinath is yet to be restored. Stranded people from there are being airlifted by the IAF and the Army and brought to Gauchar,from where they are taken by road to Rishikesh and Dehradun.
People living in Devprayag and nearby areas say there could still be thousands of people stranded in Badrinath and Kedarnath. The government may claim they have rescued everyone from Kedarnath. We dont believe it. There must be over 2,000 people stranded in Kedarnath alone and there is no count of people stranded in Badrinath, said Vidyarthi Paliwal,a Devprayag resident who walked for eight days to get back from Badrinath.
Meanwhile,rescued people have been criticising the state and the Centre. Every leader wants to earn credit for saving a couple of lives. What about hundreds of those who got swept away? There is no count. Be it Modi or Rahul Gandhi,everyone is bothered about their own vested political interests. We only recognize the Army men who saved our lives and then these people who are providing food to us,said Pappu Gosain,one of the rescued pilgrims from Kedarnath.