Friday, July 19, 2013
Trip No. 6 Dehra Dun
Not very often but sometimes strange things happen in my life. Sometime back in the first week of June I had managed to get myself selected for a 4-day training course beginning from the 18th of June to 21st June. The training course was at an institute in Dehra Dun. Naturally, I was excited. But at the last minute, due to the commencement of the second phase of the budget sessions of the Legislative Assembly, I was told to stay put at Hyderabad. Needless to say, I was terribly disappointed.
Then on the 20th of June after the news of the floods in Uttarakhand and the devastation caused by it reached us I was told to pack up and rush to Dehra Dun. I left the next day with my boss for what I thought would be a short visit of not more than three days at the most. It was almost a fortnight before I returned home. I had never been away from Hyderabad for so long on work so it was kind of draining.
For almost a fortnight since leaving Delhi and even before we left Hyderabad I was inundated with telephone call asking for information about the fate of pilgrims from our State in Uttarakhand. I was getting calls almost once every five minutes beginning from early in the morning to late in the night. I was in Delhi on Fri (21st June) where I got an idea of the magnitude of the sufferings of the pilgrims after I talked with some of the people at AP Bhavan who had returned safely. The next day we landed at Dehra Dun and almost immediately got down to work.
The work consisted of several things. The major part of the day was spent in the control room in the Uttarakhand Secretariat gathering information, attending to calls, coordinating movement of 32 other staff who had come from the State for the operations. Every day we attended a coordination meeting in the evenings where all the top brass involved in the rescue and relief operations gathered. There I got to shake hands with a General of the Army, and other top officials from ITBP, Indian Air Force and NDRF, almost daily. It isn’t every day that you get to shake hands with an Army General.
Anyway, it was extremely distressing talking to the relatives of the pilgrims who were missing since most of them would cry and plead with us to do something. We were not in a position to do anything much so all we could do was to take down the names of the missing persons, contact our persons spread out over Uttarakhand and do what we could do to obtain information about the missing pilgrims. It was even more distressing talking directly to the relatives of the missing pilgrims who came all the way from AP to Uttarakhand looking for their loved ones who went missing. They went around the airport, hotels, and wherever they could carrying pictures of their missing relatives. It was quite a sad sight watching the distress on their faces as the days went by without any word from their missing relatives. It was clear by then that most of those who were in the Kedarnath valley on the day when the flood happened, would not be found.
When we returned finally after twelve days it was with a heavy heart and disappointment that we could not do anything much for the families whose loved ones were missing at Uttarakhand.