Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna on Friday admitted that the state was completely unprepared for the floods that have killed more than 500 pilgrims. He also promised a complete evacuation withing 15 days.
A very honest Bahuguna admitted that the disaster management committee in the state had not met for six years and they were not at all prepared to handle such a huge catastrophe. "It is true we do not meet the norms of disaster management. It is also true that there is lack of personnel. We need to pull up our socks," he said in an interview to CNN-IBN.
However defending his government he said, "The government of India, people writing stories slamming Uttarakhand government has no force to deal with disaster like this. The army personnel also have never seen a disaster like the Uttarakhand floods."
Bahuguna blamed the Met department saying it never warned the government of either a flashflood or a cloudburst. "Just because there is forecast of heavy rains tourists won't leave the state. We never had warnings of cloudburst."
When asked why the warning of heavy rains were not heeded, he said, "We have heavy rains in the hilly areas everyday. No one will leave the state just because they are given a warning for heavy rains."
Bahuguna said that a doppler radar was in the piplines but disaster struck before that.
Reiterating that rescue works were being carried out on war-footing he said, "There is so much of slush and debris, we cannot tell you how many have died. The floods have taken many precious lives. It is pathetic and tragic."
He promised that the stranded people will be evacuated withing 15 days, but the magnitude of the disaster is so huge that it will take months to rebuild the state. " I don't know how to take food to my own people who are stranded in remote areas. Kedarnath temple won't be open for at least one-and-a-half to two years. It will take months and months and months to rebuild people's lives."