Uttarakhand: Reaching out to villages which haven't received help yet

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Relgaon: cut off after rains washed away the only bridge that connected it to the world

Kedar Valley:  Negotiating mountain trails in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand is not easy, but with many villages still cut off, the only way to reach them is on foot.

NDTV decided to join a group of volunteers who are taking along ration and other essentials to villages that haven't received them.

After trekking down for a good 20 minutes, we come across a wobbly, temporary bridge on a very noisy Alaknanda river.

Uttarakhand_makeshift_bridge_295.jpg
This bridge is the only way to Relgaon. Since June 16, there is no power supply there and the only way to get across to their side is this makeshift arrangement. The bridge here was washed away and this village has been completely cut off.

As the volunteers cross the 'bridge', some women from the village quickly walk down to the river bank. They are completely dependent on relief teams like these to make sure they don't starve. They say they are grateful that complete strangers have in some way looked out for them.

Government help came once on June 17, but not enough to sustain for more than a few days.

One resident tells us that only those villages that are close to roads are getting supplies. Villages like Relgaon, that have lost their road connectivity, are losing out on relief material, in spite of many trucks making their way to the nearest towns.

"I want to make sure no village in this area has to go without essentials," says Urmila Bahuguna, a local panchayat member, who arranged for a truck with supplies to take to villages that have so far been neglected.

By the government's own admission, it is falling short of reaching its people. And volunteers and locals alike are, in their own way, making sure help reaches as many people as possible.

Shachi Kaul of the Uday Foundation said, "the most important thing is to make sure people get the ration they need. We are focusing on dry ration and also putting in some essentials like tooth paste, brush, blankets, etc. There are many villages where government help has not reached. Our attempt is to reach out to those who haven't got any help so far. So our volunteers have travelled to some of these remote villages and they are in urgent need of supplies and help."

Harsh Bhaya, a businessman from Gujarat, who is also volunteering to supply relief, has been to some of these far flung villages and is moved by what he has seen. "This is the first time I've volunteered. After all the devastation I saw on TV, I just wanted to help in any way I could."

It's almost three weeks since the devastation in Uttarakhand, and with the challenging terrain and weather continuing to play spoilsport, every effort, no matter how big or small, adds up.

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