AMARNATH YATRA FLASH FLOOD | Rescue operations called off; 15 dead, none missing: LG

AMARNATH YATRA FLASH FLOOD | Rescue operations called off; 15 dead, none missing: LG

Srinagar: Stating that a lot of misinformation and rumours were floated by media after the recent flash flood near Amarnath cave shrine, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Thursday said the rescue operations launched following the flash flood, that consumed 15 lives, has been called off and there was no report of any person missing.

He said the injured undergoing treatment in Srinagar-based hospitals will also be sent back to their home states soon.

Sinha said the helpline number of the shrine board had received about 200 calls and it took some time to track the yatris as their mobile phones were switched off.

He said the J&K government was in constant touch with all state governments whose yatris were injured or killed in the incident.

Sinha said the reports about 37 pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh (AP) going missing was wrong. He added that the officials from AP had informed the UT government that all their pilgrims had been rescued.

“Fifteen pilgrims have lost their lives and all have been identified. Fifty-five persons were injured and all, except two, have been discharged and have gone home,” Sinha told reporters at the Raj Bhavan here.

The Lt Governor said the two injured were undergoing treatment at SKIMS Soura here and their condition is stated to be stable.

“I hope they will also be discharged in a few days, he said, adding that 14 bodies were sent to their families in different states while the cremation of one was done here by the family,”.

He said the administration was in touch with all the state governments and as of now no person was missing.

We have been in touch with principal resident commissioners of all the states and when there was a need, we even spoke to concerned deputy commissioners, and I can tell you that largely we do not have any inputs about any person missing, Sinha said. He said the rescue operation which was on since July 8 has largely been called off. No new dead body was found and the operation has been called off, he added.

On the allegations that the administration did not take adequate measures in the wake of a flashflood last year, Sinha said the flow pattern of both the flashfloods — last year as well as the one in 2015 — was kept in mind and the irrigation and flood control department erected a wall there.

I have spoken to many experts, had that bund not been there, the disaster could have been worse, he added.

Referring to PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti’s remarks that the government had allowed more yatris than recommended, Sinha said the Supreme Court had formed a committee of experts and on the basis of the discussions by the committee, the decision on the number of pilgrims was taken.

Two years before, 7,500 people were permitted through both sides. Last year, the shrine board improved the facilities and with the result, it was decided to allow 10,000 yatris from both the axis and this decision is being fully implemented.

I can tell you that this year, attempts have been made to improve the infrastructure and the facilities. We have tried to take feedback from the yatris as well, the Lt Governor said. Sinha said with the support of the locals, the yatra is going on in a right manner and so far, about 1.5 lakh pilgrims have had darshan’ at the cave shrine.

I am thankful of the locals who showed sensitivity and guided the yatris that day. They provided all help to them, he said, adding it remains to be seen as to how many more yatris will come . The LG said all the yatris have a Rs 5 lakh insurance cover.

Apart from that, the next of kin of those who died will be provided another Rs 5 lakh by the shrine board, he said. Sinha said the administration has requested the surveyor general of India to work on the digital contour mapping around the cave. We are in touch with experts on what other steps need to be taken, he added.

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir government has asked the Surveyor General of India to conduct digital contour mapping of the Amarnath cave and its adjoining areas to prevent loss of human lives due to natural calamities in future.

Addressing media persons at the Raj Bhawan, Lt Governor Manoj Sinha said: “I have requested the Surveyor General of India to conduct digital contour mapping of Amarnath cave shrine and its adjoining areas.

“The survey will recommend steps to be taken to prevent loss of human lives in case of natural calamities as happened on July 8.

“It is believed that in the absence of the bund (embankment) constructed there by the Irrigation and Flood Control department, the casualties due the recent cloudburst would have been more, but there always is scopefor more improvement.”

He said 15 Yatris lost their lives and 55 were injured in July 8 flash flood. Of the injured, all except two have been discharged. “The two are being treated at SKIMS and are also stable,” he said, adding that no pilgrims are missing as reported by a section of the media.

Sinha said every Yatri is insured and the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) will provide cash assistance of Rs 5 lakh each to the next of kin of those who lost their lives.

About the demand that the number of pilgrims who are allowed to perform the Yatra daily should be increased, Sinha said that a committee constituted by the Supreme Court two years ago had fixed the number of pilgrims at 7,500 from both routes – Baltal and Pahalgam.

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