Dehradun: Rattled by the Himalayan tsunami that ravaged Uttarakhand, the state government on Monday clamped a blanket ban on construction of houses and commercial establishments along river banks and announced setting up of a statutory body for development of flood-hit areas.
    
In Delhi, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said financial aid will be sought from multilateral bodies like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank for reconstruction and rehabilitation of the devastated areas in Uttarakhand.

READ MORE: ‘Google crisis response’ for U’Khand victims
    
Facing flak for the mushrooming illegal constructions on river banks, many of them used as hotels and tourist lodges, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna ordered a blanket ban on construction of houses and commercial establishments in such areas.
    
Unveiling a slew of steps being taken at a press conference, he said a Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Authority, to be chaired by him, will be set up to look at, among other things, safeguards required to face challenges that may arise in coming decades.
    
Amid conflicting figures of the death toll in the calamity, the chief minister said he would prefer not to quantify a figure. "Police officials who have visited the affected areas said 500-600 bodies are visible, many may be lying underneath heaps of debris and many reported missing are yet to be found," he said.
    
While the Uttarakhand Assembly Speaker claimed that the number of dead may touch 10,000, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has pegged it at 900 and over 3,000 missing while the National Disaster Management Authority has a lower figure of 580.

After a preliminary assessment of the extent of the colossal tragedy, the Uttarakhand Cabinet on Monday decided to revise the norms for relief and rehabilitation by widening the ambit of beneficiaries ranging from small kiosks to 'dhabas' to big hotels.
    
"Everyone who suffered losses from owners of small kiosks to hotels will be given compensation," Bahuguna said.

Over 11,000 missing, says UN

    
A total of 1,350 people have been evacuated from Badrinath while over 3,500 remain untraced in flood-hit Uttarakhand even as a UN agency estimated that the number of missing could be over 11,000.
    
"According to data available till Sunday, 1,350 have been evacuated from Badrinath- 800 by air and 550 by road. But there are some locals like shopkeepers and ashram dwellers who also are being evacuated," NDMA Vice-Chairman M Shashidhar Reddy told reporters on Monday.
    
The number of dead stands at 580 while the NDRF has rescued 8,634 people from Kedarnath taking the overall evacuation to 1,08,253 people, he said.

"According to the quantum of FIRs filed, the number of missing stands at 3,500-3,700 but a report prepared by a UN agency along with some NGO pegs the figure in excess of 11 thousand," Reddy said.
    
He informed that maximum deaths have occurred in the Kedarnath and Rambada areas while the number of injured registered so far has risen to is 3,119 compared to the figures of 436 on Saturday.

Yagya by seers for peace to departed souls
    
Seers associated with 13 Akharas on Monday participated in a collective 'Yagya' and 'Havan' on the banks of Ganga river at Har Ki Pairi to pray for peace to the souls of people killed in Uttarakhand calamity.
    
The Mahants, Mahamandaleshwars and the chiefs of Shaddarshan Sadhu Samaj took part in the 3-hour yagya performed at Har Ki Pairi's Malviya Dweep in accordance with
Vedic traditions.

(JPN/Agencies)

Latest News from India News Desk