Dehradun: Amid ongoing rescue operations in Uttarakhand to save the survivors of flash-flood in the state, now it’s hunger and exploitation by local traders which seem to be adding to woes of the stranded pilgrims.

With this, shocking tales of human apathy to the sufferings of the victims have come to the fore with stranded people being forced to pay Rs 250 for a 'paratha' and Rs 100 for a small pack of chips.

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56-year-old flood victim and Dehradun local Manohar Lal Mauriya, who has been rescued and admitted to the Doon Hospital, said the exploitation of distraught travelers has saddened him.

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"I had to pay Rs 40 for a small bowl of rice. There was no food available anywhere," Mauriya, who saw his taxi being washed by the swirling flood waters, said.

Amit Gupta of Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh, who spoke to his relatives stranded in Gaumukh, said they had to pay Rs 400 for two small packets of chips and two bottles of water. Having survived the tragedy, the stranded persons, many of whom are left with little money and belongings, are finding it difficult to buy food and water for themselves.

Exorbitant fare for taxis

A stranded Sikh tourist complained that some locals were exploiting their helplessness. "Taxi drivers are demanding Rs 3000-4000 for a journey that would normally cost Rs 1000. All our money has been exhausted. We are helpless," the tourist said.

Another tourist waiting at the railway station said they are paying through the nose to buy food. "Shopkeepers are selling a paratha for Rs 250 and a water bottle for Rs 200. It is terrible".

Ramesh from Udaipur, whose parents are stranded in a flood-hit area, said they are finding it hard to buy food and water as the locals were demanding an exorbitant amount for the same.

72-year-old Shyam Sunder Sharma from Phagwara said there were no arrangements in the camp in Harshil for food and medicines.

Authorities are making efforts to rush food packets amid reports that hundreds of survivors did not get anything to eat for days.

Hunger biggest challenge

As the multi-agency rescue and relief operations are underway to save thousands of people stranded in flood-ravaged hills state of Uttarakhand, the next big worry has appeared in the form of hunger.

Those who are stuck in the worst affected areas are having harrowing time as they are left with hardly any food to fight hunger. Many of the stranded people are old and seriously injured pilgrims.

According to the officials who are engaged in carrying out the operations in Kedarnath, many of the pilgrims seem to have already died due to hunger and illness.  

“What I have seen in the last four-five days will never be forgotten. I am thankful to God that I am alive but I will never come back here," said one of the rescued pilgrims. Eyewitness accounts said more than two dozen people died on the way to Kedarnath due to cold, fatigue and hunger.


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