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Himachal seeks calamity relief on Uttarakhand pattern

Shimla : The Himachal Pradesh government would ask for additional calamity relief from the Prime Minister's Relief Fund on the pattern of disaster-hit Uttarakhand, Revenue Minister Kaul Singh said Thursday.
"We are trying our best to provide relief to victims within the available resources," Singh said while replying to a question in the assembly.
He said Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh had written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to expedite the early release of Rs.1,972.08 crore based on the damage estimates, so restoration and relief works could be taken up fast.
"There was much damage in Uttarakhand, but somehow the media exaggerated figures," he said.
The minister said deaths due to rains in the state June 15-17 had risen to 64 and losses were pegged at Rs.2,934.05 crore.
A total of 9,812 buildings got damaged and 24,390 animals died. Four persons went missing.
He said maximum damage was reported from Kinnaur district where 23 people died.
The minister said the central government had provided Rs.68.12 crore relief in the first instalment and another amount of Rs.69 crore was due for release.
He said the state had released Rs.129.24 crore for relief works.
Raising the issue, former state revenue minister Gulab Singh of the Bharatiya Janata Party said there was difference in the relief being distributed to victims in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
"In Uttarakhand, the relief in case of death, handicap and damage to house is on the higher side against Himachal. The state needs to review its relief manual and take up with the central government to give additional relief to the victims here," he said. 

'Uttarakhand's orphaned children may fall prey to traffickers'

Dehradun : Two months after the Uttarakhand tragedy, the wounds continue to deepen as stories of missing and orphaned children come to the fore with fears expressed that many of them may fall prey to human traffickers.
While the state government estimates 455 children missing after the floods ravaged towns and villages, the state's child rights commission puts the number much higher. The commission and aid agencies are also worried that orphaned and vulnerable children may be falling prey to traffickers.
"The risk of children falling prey to traffickers is always there after a natural calamity, especially of this magnitude," Ajay Sethia, chairperson of the Uttarakhand State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, told IANS. "My concern is how to handle the more than 300-400 orphaned children because the government has no infrastructure."
Flash floods and landslides caused by cloudbursts claimed thousands of lives in Uttarakhand in June. Among those killed and affected were both pilgrims and locals. As a result, families have been torn apart, some being entirely washed away, others leaving only a few survivors and orphaned children.
Quoting the latest state government figures, Sethia said that as of now, 287 children from other states - mostly pilgrims' children - have been reported to have gone missing after the tragedy. The most among these missing children - 130 - were from Uttar Pradesh. Others were from Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Chandigarh.
"The district administration figures of children of local people going missing is 168, but the commission believes the figure is higher," Sethiya said. "For instance, in  Rudraprayag district, the official estimate of missing children is 146, but the commission's figure is 181. So our total figure is 203 missing children, but there may be more."
Kailash Satyarthi of the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) said that the focus of the government has not yet reached the children, which is a matter of concern.
"The focus was on rescuing the missing people, the pilgrims first because they were in such big numbers and then the locals. Children have still not got the focus, which is worrying, because from our experience, after every natural disaster a place becomes a trafficking zone. We had seen it during and after the Kosi floods, during the Tsunami, and now we fear the same in Uttarakhand."
The Uttarakhand SCPCR pushed the central government to start the Integrated Child Protection Scheme in the state under which all existing child protection schemes, with additional interventions, will be brought together to build a protective environment for children.
"The central government will allot the funds and we have given directions for the care of vulnerable children and orphans. We have said that of the 13 observation homes, only three should remain and the rest should be made children's homes. In Tehri, there is one shelter home which should be converted into a children's home," Sethia said.
Although no case of trafficking or kidnapping has been reported till now, recognising the looming threat on vulnerable children, Sethia said, he had instructed the director general of police to activate the four anti-trafficking units in the state.
Civil society, on the other hand, has been doing its bit to offer a protective environment to the affected children. Save the Children India, for instance, has plans of building 100 child-friendly spaces in as many villages in which trained caregivers will help children learn, play, get medical help and interact with one another for psycho-social support.
"Children are at a loose end and unprotected, either because their families have disappeared or they are left alone because their parents have gone looking for alternative livelihood. Schools have been washed away and the kids are extremely traumatised. In such a scenario, these child-friendly spaces, which are tented areas, aim to provide support," Devendra Tak of the NGO told IANS.
Of the 100 planned, 13 such spaces in three districts - Chamoli, Uttarkashi and Tehri Garhwal - are functional and support 25-30 children each, although their capacity is 50 each. The initiative has the support of both the state government and the Centre.
Satyarthi further said that BBA has written to the Uttarakhand government to instruct the local police to prevent outsiders from entering the 2,000 affected villages without verification.
"It's very easy to lure away children from parents on the pretext of a job in a city and a good livelihood when they have lost everything. Traffickers will be on the lookout for such vulnerable families to source child labourers," he warned.

उत्तरकाशी जिलें मे तबाही के है चौतरफा निशान

उत्तरकाशी । कई सालों से दैवीय आपदाओं ने उत्तरकाशी जिलें मे जमकर तबाही का सिलसिला जारी रखा हुआ है। पिछले साल यहां आई तबाही से अभी लोग अपने को सुरक्षित भी नही कर पाएं थे कि इस साल भी यहां कुदरत ने जमकर तांडव मचाया और अब लोग यहां से पलायन कर छोडक़र जाना में ही अपनी भलाई समझ रहे है।  

उत्तरकाशी नगरवासियों को सावधान रहने की जरूरत है। नगर पर चारों ओर से खतरे के बादल मंडरा रहे हैं। बरसों से आसमानी आफत झेल रहे नगर के लोगों को अब जमीनी आफत भी झेलनी पड़ सकती है। भागीरथी नदी का तल ऊंचा होने से शहर के घर तथा होटलों में पानी के स्रोत फूट गए हैं। भू-वैज्ञानिकों की माने तो इससे मकानों पर दरारें आने की संभावना ज्यादा हो बढ़ गई है और पहले से ही कमजोर भवन भरभराकर गिर सकते हैं। वैज्ञानिकों का कहना है कि यदि पानी का रिसाव इसी तरह से तेज होता गया तो बड़े खतरे से भी इंकार नहीं किया सकता। अगस्त 2012 की बाढ़ से  संगमचट्टी से गंगोंरी तक और गंगोरी से मनेरा तक नदी में चार लाख 35 हजार 550 घनमीटर मलबा जमा हो गया था। दिसंबर 2012 में आपदा प्राधिकरण की टीम ने सर्वे कर मलबे हटाने के लिए सात स्थान चिहिन्त किए। इसके बावजूद मात्र 15 हजार घन मीटर मलबा ही हटाया गया। इसके बाद इस दफा भी बीते 16-17 जून को आई बाढ़ से भी भागरथी में भारी मलबा जमा हो गया है। यही कारण है कि भागरथी नदी का तल भी उठकर उत्तरकाशी शहर के संमानांतर पर पंहुच गया है। नदी  का लेवल बढ़ जाने से इसका असर भी दिखने लगा है। नदी से 500 मीटर दूर लोगों के घरों व व्यावसायिक प्रतिष्ठानों में पिछले कई दिनों से पानी के स्रोत फूट पड़े हैं। घरों से इतना ज्यादा पानी निकल रहा है कि लोगों को पानी बाहर फेंकने के लिए मोटर का सहारा लेना पड़ रहा है। पानी का स्रोत फूटने से लोगों में दहशत का माहौल भी पैदा हो गया है। पानी के साथ हल्का रेत भी आ रहा है। डीएम डा. पंकज पांडेय ने आरएनएस को बताया कि घरों में आ रहे पानी की सफाई नगर पालिका से करवाई जाएगी। जरूरत पड़ी तो भू-वैज्ञानिकों से यह भी पता लगवाया जाएगा कि यह पानी कहां से आ रहा है। भू-वैज्ञानिकों की टीम भटवाड़ी क्षेत्र में जा रखी है। एसोसिएट प्रोफेसर अर्थ साइंस डिपार्टमेंट आईआईटी रूडक़ी  डा.एन बालागन ने आरएनएस को बताया कि यदि नदी का तल यदि शहर के बराबर है तो नदी के पानी के रिसाव से मना नहीं किया जा सकता है, लेकिन वास्तविक स्थिति का पता जांच करने के बाद ही लग पाएगा। इससे घरों में दरारें आने की संभावना बनी रहती है।


High alert as heavy rains batter Uttarakhand

Dehradun : Uttarakhand was on high alert Monday following meteorological predictions of heavy to very heavy rains over three days on top of the downpour that has crippled life in Dehradun.
A large section of the main peripheral wall of an 8th century 'math',  founded by Adi Shankra, was Monday washed away by the raging waters of the Alaknanda river. 
Officials said the 'math', one of the 360 founded by the Shankracharya, was under immense threat of devastation. They said many precious stones as well as shilaas had been washed away.
Officials said that district administrations at many places had been put  on high alert as many rivers were in spate. Unending rains since Sunday night have worsened the situation. 
Heavy rains lashed Haridwar, Dehradun, Mussourie, Uttarkashi, Rudraprayag and most hill districts, said an official.
Due to the rains, all rehabilitation work in the rain and flood affected areas of June have halted, officials said. 
People on river banks in many districts, including Haridwar, have been asked to move to safer places.
Vikasnagar and Chamoli also experienced heavy rains. An official said the rains would get intense in the next three days. The Bhagirathi is flowing dangerously close to the danger mark.
The met department has predicted 90 to 100 mm of rains in Dehradun. The city got 82 mm rains in the last 24 hours. Uttarkashi has received 81.6 mm of rains. 
Owing to the downpour, water level in the Ganga has risen dangerously in Rishikesh, Dev Prayag and Haridwar. 
Ganga in Haridwar is flowing at 292.7 metres, 338.96 metres in Rishikesh and 458.45 metres in Dev Prayag.
In a related development, Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna presided over a cabinet meeting to map out efforts to reach out to people in far flung  areas and expedite rehabilitation work. 
The state has drawn a Rs.8,000 crore package to rehabilitate people and reconstruct hundreds of villages ravaged in June.
More than 1,500 people were killed and over 5,000 are still missing in  June's 'Himalayan tsunami'.