Guptkashi: Looking beyond the human tragedy in Uttarakhand, a group of volunteers are trying to reach out to the silent sufferers - animals hit by the natural calamity. Among the scores of vehicles and thousands of survivors in this town located on the Kedarnath highway, there is throughout the day a steady stream of mule trains.
The animals move through the main market road in small packs, minded by their keepers, both looking woebegone and exhausted. "The mules have also suffered in this tragedy. Many of them were swept away in the cloudburst, many more are injured. But not much attention has been paid to them," said Dr Muqaddar Ali, a veterinarian from Jaipur associated with Humane Society International Workers.
"Of course, the administration has its hands full trying to deal with the human scale of the tragedy, but we thought that something must be done for the animals," he said. Keshav Kumar Pachauri, who had arrived in a group of about a dozen people made up of volunteers from People For Animals' Dehradun chapter and Humane Society International workers from Jaipur, said, "The poor mules spend their lifetimes just carrying people on their backs to Kedarnath." "Now, in the hour of disaster, we need to spare a thought for these mute creatures," he said.
The Uttarakhand government is collaborating with them in their bid to reach out to the animals. It has provided the team with a medical van and will logistically support the endeavour. The animal volunteers plan to set up a camp in Son Prayag and then trek through the jungles to find animals which are trapped or injured and provide treatment to them.
"One of our team members has already moved ahead and done a survey of the area. We would be working closely with the Army. They said that they too need our help with all the military's mules," Ali said. Pankaj Kumar, who is the director of an adventure tour company operating in the mountains of Uttarakhand, said the
tourist season is usually a busy time for him, but the circumstances this year have dictated otherwise. But he is not sitting unoccupied.He arrived here with his team of travel guides and mountaineers to do his bit for the stranded pilgrims. "I heard that a lot of people are stuck in the jungles up in the hills. Our plan is to trek through the affected areas and find survivors. Many people are stranded at heights from which they are now unable to descend. These are old people, many of whom have taken ill in the meantime," Kumar said.
Manish Pandey, from the NDRF's Seventh Battalion based in Bhatinda, said that many of the survivors, who climbed the hills to escape the flash flood, are now afraid to come down. The rain has made matters more difficult. "People who have managed to reach any of our camps along the Kedarnath route at Jungle Chatti, Son Prayag, Gauri Kund etc. are in safe hands; they are being brought back. As to those stuck in the heights, we will have to reach them somehow and bring them back. That is the next challenge," Pandey said.
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Updated Date: Jun 24, 2013 11:27:15 IST