'Never going Back to Uttarakhand again'
Chenntali (50), keeps stretching her legs and arms. She cannot get enough of being able to move them -- for two days, she was crammed in a small room with 30 others near Uttarkashi in flood-hit Uttarakhand.
She is one of the 28 pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh who arrived in the national capital late Wednesday, after being stranded for four days in Uttarkashi.
“It is scary: No food, no water and no toilet. We were stuck for four days, and two of those days were spent in a static bus. For two days, we were in a small room in which 30 people were crammed. We feared we might suffocate to death,”said Chenntali.
The group of 28, from different parts of Andhra Pradesh, were housed at the Andhra Pradesh Bhavan in the capital Thursday.
“Never more do I want to go to Uttarakhand. It was a horrible experience. All I could see was water. A road caved in, right in front of my eyes,” a woman in her 40s said.
“We had no medical aid, no toilets,” she said.
M Venkateswar Rao, in his 50s, thanks God that he is still alive. “We are alive by God’s grace. We were on pilgrimage, but we could not go to Yamunotri,” he says.
Officials at Andhra Pradesh Bhavan said another group of 125 people was expected to arrive, in two batches.
“All I want to do is go back to my village in Guntur. We have to get railway tickets,” said a tired, 53-year-old Ramakrishna.
“These people will get food and medicine here, and we are in touch with the state government about them. We will also be arranging tickets for their return,” said Kovuuri Ganapathi Reddy, officer on special duty at the Andhra Pradesh Information Centre Bhavan.
Thousands left without food, water
Rescue and evacuation operations picked up in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand but those who survived the nature’s fury alleged major food shortages.
Officials said that while the evacuation process had been fast-tracked, more than 70,000 people were still stranded at various places in the hill state. “There is an acute shortage of drinking water, medicines and food. One can't imagine what the situation is like," said a pilgrim from Basti in UP who was rescued by a private chopper.