Tuesday, 23 Feb, 1.33 pm Kaumudi Online

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Uttarakhand tragedy: 136 missing to be declared dead

DEHRADUN: Over a fortnight after the devastating flash floods of February 7, the Uttarakhand government has initiated the process of declaring 136 people missing after the disaster as "presumed dead" and issued a notification to that effect on Monday.

Till Monday, the rescue teams had recovered 68 bodies, while 136 are still reported to be missing. Out of the total recovered bodies, 14 were found from the tunnel at the NTC hydropower project site at Tapovan, while the rest were recovered from other upstream and downstream areas.

Officials familiar with the development said that people who have gone missing in a disaster are usually declared dead if they have not been heard of for seven years.

In Kedarnath case too, wait time was cut below 7 years.

But in the case of the Chamoli disaster, it was decided to invoke provisions of the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969, which allow persons who are missing to be declared dead before the stipulated seven-year period.

The move, the officials said, has been initiated to speed up the process of giving compensation to the affected families. The state government has announced compensation of Rs 4 lakh for the kin of the deceased while an ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh has been announced by the Centre. In the case of the 2013 Kedarnath tragedy, too, those who were missing were declared presumed dead before the seven-year period, sources in the government said.

The notification details the appointment of designated officers at the district level for disposing of the applications of issuing death certificates for the missing persons.

"The missing persons have been categorised in three categories - first, those who were residents of disaster-hit areas or nearby areas; second, those who were residents of other districts of Uttarakhand but were present in the disaster-hit areas on February 7, and the last category is of those belonging to other states who were present in the flash-flood hit areas."

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