More than a week after the deluge in the hills of Uttarakhand, the exact death toll remains a big mystery.
Although the government has stopped releasing its bulletin on the death toll since yesterday, chief minister Vijay Bahuguna said it should around 1,000. Today, the government again did not give any figure on the toll and parried all the questions in this regard.
But the state disaster management minister Yashpal Arya yesterday put the death in the recent devastation around 5,000, according to an agency report. In another newspaper, Arya denied it saying he never said it should around 5000. And there were no clear cut answers as both Arya and Bahuguna are avoiding such questions saying the official surveys have not been completed.
The confusion still persisted regarding the number of causalities on June 16 and 17 when a series of cloudbursts wreaked havoc in 5 districts of Rudraprayag, Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Pithoragarh and Tehri giving very little time to the state government to act and launch relief and rescue operations.
According to ITBP officers, the toll should be around 5000 on the basis of the magnitude of the destruction caused by the floods and landslides. However, eye pilgrims returning home are putting much higher figure. “We have seen hundreds of bodies lying scattered in the jungles of Kedarnath,” said Suman Gupta, who miraculously escaped from the devastation.
However, chief secretary Subhash Kumar today said a total of 680 people were rescued by the army and ITBP troops as the inclement weather completely hampered the sorties of the Indian Air Force. According to an official estimate, over 4000 people are still stranded at Gangotri and Badrinath areas