The natural disaster in Uttarakhand, where over 14,000 people are reported missing, has forced Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to seek citizens' contributions to the PM relief fund.
In the aftermath of the flash floods in the hilly Indian state, the PM on Thursday appealed to the people saying, "At this moment, affected people need our help to tide over the calamity that has fallen upon them, to survive and to rebuild their lives. I request all citizens of India to stand with our distressed fellow countrymen, and actively participate in the national effort to support them at this difficult time."
"I appeal to all citizens to donate generously to the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund," he added.
The Jammu & Kashmir government has joined other states announcing ₹1 crore as donation to the PM Relief fund, which will cover the flood situation in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
Meanwhile, rescue efforts remained slow as the floods washed away most land routes. More choppers and members of elite paratroopers were pressed into operation for the 60,000 people who are still reported stranded.
According to an NDTV report, "45 choppers belonging to the Army and the Air Force are being used to air-lift and help stranded people. 8,500 soldiers are helping the National Disaster Response Force and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel in rescue efforts."
Further, the need to re-fuel the choppers only in Uttarakhand capital Dehradun caused further delay in the operations. Even lack of adequate landing pads or plain areas further crippled the operations.
The official death toll was reported to have reached 150 but state Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna expressed concern that the numbers would climb up further.
After carrying out operations in the worst-hit Kedarnath district, the rescue teams are expected to concentrate on Gaurikund and Rambara. Around 5,000 people are said to have been trapped in the narrow valley as landslides blocked major passes.
According to the National Defence Research Force (NDRF), 17 bodies have been recovered from Rambara while 885 have been rescued so far. The survivors had to fight starvation and hopelessness as food packets were unavailable in many places. For many, the loss of their loved ones in the floods will forever haunt their memories.
Kailash, who was airlifted from Kedarnath with his wife and son, told CNN-IBN: "We had to walk over dead bodies. Nothing is left there, everything is finished. We can't even find our relatives."
As the flood waters receded, the Kedarnath temple bore the brunt of massive damage. Adding to the woes, the temple officials said that given the wretched condition of the shrine, tourists may not return for at least two years.
According to government sources, more than 1,100 damaged roads and 94 bridges that were washed away in the floods have to be rebuilt in the state and it would require not less than two to three years.
In another report, relatives of those missing have held a protest outside Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun. The agitators have voiced concern at the government's apathy to face any emergency.
Rudraprayag, Uttarkashi, Chamoli: +919808151240, +919837134399;
Pauri, Haridwar, Nainital: +91999779124, +919451901023; Almora,
Bageshwar and Pithoragarh: +919456755206, +919634535758;
Uttarakhand Disaster Management Secretary 9837542221