PM Narendra Modi visits flood-hit J&K; Vaishnodevi Yatra suspended for 4th consecutive day

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today reviewed the flood situation in Jammu region at a high-level meeting attended by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and top officials.

Modi, who arrived here this morning, held the meeting at Jammu’s Technical Airport and was briefed by Abdullah on the devastation caused by the floods which have claimed 116 lives, officials said.

The Prime Minister is scheduled to undertake an aerial survey of the flood-hit areas in Jammu zone, they said.

He will later fly to Srinagar for an assessment of the damaged caused by the floods.

The decision on the Prime Minister’s visit came following a review meeting which he called after being briefed yesterday by Home Minister Rajnath Singh who returned to the national capital after surveying the flood-affected regions, the Prime Minister’s Office had said in a statement.

“After reviewing the situation, the Prime Minister decided to visit Jammu and Kashmir to personally assess the gravity of the situation and understand the problems being faced by the people,” it had said.

The Cabinet Secretary and Modi’s Principal Secretary were among those who had attended the meeting.

Torrential rains which triggered flooding, landslides and house collapses have so far claimed 116 lives.

Modi, while condoling the deaths in the flood, had on Thursday announced Rs 2 lakh as ex-gratia relief for the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for the seriously injured.

Yatra to Mata Vaishnodevi cave shrine has been suspended for forth consecutive day today in view of heavy rains in Jammu and Kashmir as authorities said the pilgrimage would be resumed only after the weather improves.

“Yatra to cave shrine remained suspended for third day today in view of heavy rains and bad weather conditions”, officials of Shri Mata Vaishnodevi Shrine Board (SMVSB) said.

Keeping in view the safety of pilgrims in the wake of incessant torrential rainfall and also considering the weather forecast, yatra to the Shrine from Katra-the base camp, has been temporarily suspended till further notice, a spokesman of the Board said.

The Yatra was temporarily suspended from 4.00 PM onwards on September 4 in view of heavy rain in the state.

“Yatra to the Holy Cave Shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Deviji from Katra onwards continues to remain under suspension today also keeping in view the safety of pilgrims in the wake of continuing rains and the closure of the track due to landslides at various places”, he said.

Mandeep K Bhandari, Chief Executive Officer, SMVSB, said here today that the decision about resumption of the Yatra will be taken only after the weather improves and, as such, advised the intending pilgrims to replan their schedule for undertaking the pilgrimage accordingly.

Over 4000 pilgrims, who were stranded at Bhawan and other places have been shifted to safer places.  As Jammu and Kashmir faced the worst flood in nearly six decades, Army has launched a major rescue operation and evacuated 11,000 people to safety by deploying 100 columns of troops in flood-hit areas of the state.

“A total of 11,000 civilians have been rescued, out of these 2,000 people have been provided food and temporary shelter in Jammu and Kashmir,” Defence spokesman S D Goswami said tonight.

A total of 100 columns of army, 13 teams of Army engineers have been deployed in the Kashmir and Jammu regions, he said. One army column consists of 75 to 100 troops.

So far, 107 people have lost their lives in flooding, landslides and house collapses in the state.

Army has intensified its ‘Mission Sahayata’ and troops are working tirelessly to rescue people trapped in flooded villages, isolated houses and multi-storied buildings in the inundated areas all over Kashmir, Goswami said.

As the number of shelter less people is rising, Army is also providing tented accommodation to hundreds of people, he added.

The major flood rescue operations started on September 2.  Later, ‘Mission Sahayata’ was launched to cover areas of the entire Valley, he said.

By September 4, eight major columns were put to service, Col Goswami said adding that over 400 people were taken to safety. “In addition to these, large number of people were assisted to relocate themselves, many vehicles stuck inside water were recovered and food packets were distributed,” he said.

By September 5, there were 70 major columns and 12 engineer teams operating in Kashmir and by the night over 5,000 people were rescued.

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