Dehradun, (Agencies): Bad weather has compelled authorities to halt the Amarnath Yatra at Pahalgaon and Baltal base camps and stopped retrieval of bodies buried in the debris and cremation at Kedarnath and Guptakashi.
About 2000 pilgrims are still stranded in the upper reaches of Uttarakhand with at least 1,400 in Badrinath. The state government claimed to have cleared Harsil of all the pilgrims.
Choppers have been flown to the Himalayan shrine to evacuate the remaining pilgrims.
Adding to the problem, water level in Bhagirathi river is rising continuously, because of which as many as 70 families residing along the river banks had to be taken to safer places.
Chief minister Vijay Bahuguna, who is scheduled to undertake a tour of Uttarkashi, could not take off and is still in Dehradun waiting for the weather to clear.
With fewer pilgrims stranded in Badrinath now, the focus is on evacuating them as early as possible and supplying relief material to the affected villages in the worst-hit Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Uttarkashi districts, officials said.
Army chief Gen Bikram Singh had announced winding up of rescue operations in Kedarghati and said the entire focus would now be on evacuating pilgrims stuck in Badrinath.
The army personnel will remain in Uttarakhand till the last survivor in affected areas is evacuated to safety, he had said.
Bahuguna had reassured the kin of people stranded in Badrinath not to worry as they were provided with adequate supply of essentials like food and medical aid.
Efforts are being made on war-footing to ensure supply of relief material to large number of villages cut off for nearly two weeks.
Shortage of essentials, including foodgrains, has been reported from over 600 villages in Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Uttarkashi districts in wake of the natural calamity.
Amarnath Yatra halted Bad weather has compelled authorities to halt the Amarnath Yatra at Pahalgaon and Baltal base camps and stopped retrieval of bodies buried in the debris and cremation at Kedarnath and Guptakashi.
With fewer pilgrims stranded in Badrinath now, the focus is on evacuating them as early as possible and supplying relief material to the affected 600 villages in the worst-hit Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Uttarkashi districts, officials say.
ASI team to visit Kedarnath In the worst-hit Kedarnath region, cremation of bodies is on in full swing to minimise chances of an epidemic outbreak.
Till now, last rites of 34 bodies has been performed and the cremation of 12 more bodies pulled out from the debris will be conducted soon.
Meanwhile, a team of experts from Archaeological Survey of India will visit the Kedarnath temple in Uttarakhand to assess the quantum of damage caused by the flood fury and restoration required for the shrine.
A team of five experts from Dehradun and Delhi will be the part of the exercise for the revered temple which bore the brunt of floods and landslides triggered by the deluge in the hill state on June 16.
The state government had sought help from the ASI to assess the damage caused to the shrine.
Over 8000 troops deployed The defence forces have deployed around 50 helicopters and over 8,000 troops in flood-hit Uttarakhand to rescue 2,000 people stranaded in the state, including Badrinath and Harsil.
The IAF has deployed 37 choppers along with 13 helicopters of the Army. Together, they have flown 84 sorties in the last 24 hours for evacuating the stranded pilgrims in the state, a defence ministry release said.
The armed forces have been successful in bringing out over 650 people from the pilgrimage town of Badrinath and Harsil in the last 24 hours, it said.
In the operations which started on June 17, the two forces have deployed over 60 choppers which have flown 2,518 sorties and overall evacuated around 46,000 people from the higher reaches of the state.
Meanwhile, IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne received the bodies of the five IAF personnel who were killed in a helicopter crash on Tuesday.
The Airforce also carried out a mission using its ALH Dhruv choppers in Gaurikund to bring the bodies from the crash site for postmortem and for DNA analysis at Dehradun.
Wing Commander Daryll Castellino, Flight Lieutenants Tapan Kapoor and K Praveen, Junior Warrant Officer AK Singh and Sergeant Sudhakar Yadav were among the 20 people who lost their lives in the chopper crash.
(With HT and PTI inputs)