Efforts on to rescue Odia pilgrims stranded in Uttarakhand: Govt

Bhubaneswar: Even as the military operation has been intensified to rescue as many as 70,000 people stranded in different parts of monsoon ravaged Uttarakhnad and Himachal Pradesh, Odisha government is making all possible efforts for the safe return of over 100 Odia pilgrims stranded in some areas of the State, officials said.

A 24X7 control room has been opened at Odisha Bhwan in New Delhi to assist family members of the victims. They can contact the help line no 011-24679201, 24679202, 24679203, 24679204 (Odisha Bhawan) and 0135-2710334 & 2710335 (Uttarakhand), official sources said.

Meanwhile, the joint resident commissioner of Odisha in New Delhi has left with a team for Uttarakhand, Odisha home secretary UN Behera said. Resident Commissioner of Odisha, Bipin Saxsena has been entrusted with the responsibility.

While Odisha government has sought assistance of Uttarakhand to make safe return of Odia people up to Rishikesh, Odisha Bhawan will make efforts to bring them back to Delhi from Risikesh, official sources said. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has announced Rs 5 cr aid for the flood hit Uttarakhand.

According to reports, around 40 pilgrims from Paralakhemundi area in Gajapati district, 20 from Ganjam, 10 from Bhubaneswar, 16 from Jatani and 10 of a family from Cuttack are stranded in the flood-hit mountainous areas. Nearly 25 pilgrims from Jatni in Khurda district and 8 from Rengali in Sambalpur are also reportedly stranded in the flood hit State. 

Sources said, 28 helicopters have been deployed in the rescue operation while 100 mountain rescue team of military force have been pressed into service at Badrinath and Kedarnath. Similarly, 5000 jawans are engaged in the relief work and 2,000 more soldiers have been sent to expedite the operation. Official sources confirmed death of 150 people in the calamity while unconfirmed sources said that over 1000 people are apprehended to have been killed in the deluge.