New Delhi: Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth Friday reviewed relief efforts in Uttarakhand with representatives of various agencies including army, air force, the ITBP and NDRF even as 50,000 people have so far been evacuated from disaster-hit areas of the state.

Amid possibility of rain from June 24 in the affected areas, it was decided to further step up relief and rescue effort in the next two days.

The meeting was also attended by officials of metrological department.

Principal Director General (Media & Communication) Neelam Kapur told media persons that about 8,000 personnel were engaged in rescue effort on the ground. Representatives of defence and paramilitary organisations also addressed the media about rescue efforts.

She said so far 55 helicopters have been used in the rescue effort and most of those evacuated were pilgrims.

Of the 50,000 people evacuated, 14,500 were rescued by the army, over 13,500 by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and 3,784 by the Indian Air Force.

IAF’s Director General (Operations) Air Marshal S.B. Deo said over 240 sorties had been carried out Friday.

“We have evacuated 1,252 people today,” he said and added that the IAF had also dropped personnel of army, ITBP and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in the affected area.

He said 585 sorties had been carried out since start of relief operation and the force has so far committed 38 helicopters. Air Marshal Deo said the relief efforts would be be further stepped up over the next two days.

“Tomorrow (Saturday) we hope to do a better job as the weather will be good. We have a window of 24 hours as there is possibility of inclement weather from June 24,” he said.

Army’s Additional Director General (Public Information) Maj. Gen S.L. Narasimhan said the army had opened several roads blocked by landslides but many remained to be opened.

He said paratroopers had been dropped to evacuate people.

Kapur said railways were running special trains free of charge and Air India was offering concessional fares.

She said the central government had sent six medical teams to the state while communications facilities had been beefed up.

Source: IANS