CHAMOLI, Uttarakhand, India (June 19, 2013)—With the incessant rains and cloudbursts in Uttarkhand, pilgrims visiting Sri Hemkunt Sahib have been stranded at Gurdwaras Joshi Math and Gobind Dham. Rescue operations are being conducted with the support of military forces who are making use of helicopters to rescue stranded people. A total of 22 helicopters have been sent to Uttarkhand by the Central Government to rescue an estimated 60,000 people, out of which around 3 helicopters are rescuing the pilgrims already at Gurdwara Hemkunt Sahib whose number is estimated around 2000.
All the devotees at Gobind Ghat have been evacuated and efforts are being made for the safety of the pilgrims at Gobind Dham. SGPC chief Avtar Makkar said that the Punjab Government has also sent a rescue helicopter and 300 pilgrims have arrived at safer places from Gobind Dham. The SGPC has also sent two trucks from Gurdwara Nadda Sahib which would distribute langar and medicines to the stranded sangat. A team of doctors has also been sent for the aid of the people.
Gurdwara officials in the area have stated that although the Gurdwara buildings and bridges have suffered a great deal of loss, all the Saroops of Guru Granth Sahib are safe.
Due to a great deal of landslides in the area, roadways have been blocked and the rescue operations are being mainly conducted via air routes primarily using the helicopters. However the Punjab CM has expressed the unavailability of helicopters at a large scale. Another problem being encountered by the government is the lack of enough helipads to land the helicopters in the area due to a wide amount of destruction caused by the floods.
The Akal Takht appointed Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh has appealed to the Sikh community to delay the yatra until conditions become safe.
Baba Taranjeet Singh informed that due to incessant rains, water was released in Badrinath based dam which caused the flooding of Alaknanda River which subsequently caused heavy damages resulting in the flooding away of dozen vehicles including a helicopter. 4 saroops of Guru Granth Sahib were also immersed in water at Gurdwara Gobing Ghat. The Gurdwara buildings have also suffered heavy losses. Cloudburst triggered floods and landslides have halted the roadways in the area.
Indian PM Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi also examined the area and announced a relief of Rs 200,000 to the families of the people who are dead and an amount of Rs 50,000 to injured people.