HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE

Drissya Vijayan IX-D

2013 NORTH INDIA FLOODS

In June 2013, a multi-day cloudburst centered on the North Indian state of Uttarakhand caused devastating floods and landslides in the country's worst natural disaster since the 2004 tsunami.

ORGIN

From 14 to 17 June 2013, the Indian state of Uttarakhand and adjoining areas received heavy rainfall, which was about 375% more than the benchmark rainfall during a normal monsoon. This caused the melting of Chorabari Glacier at the height of 3800 metres, and eruption of the Mandakini River which led to heavy floods near Gobindghat, Kedar Dome, Rudraprayag district, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Western Nepal, and acute rainfall in other nearby regions of Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and some parts of Tibet.

The upper Himalayan territories of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand are full of forests and snow-covered mountains and thus remain relatively inaccessible. They are home to several major and historic Hindu and Sikh pilgrimage sites besides several tourist spots and trekking trails. Heavy rainfall for four consecutive days as well as melting snow aggravated the floods. Warnings by the India Meteorological Department predicting heavy rains were not given wide publicity beforehand, causing thousands of people to be caught unaware, resulting in huge loss of life and property.

REASONS

A year ago, Indians were shocked when catastrophic floods hit the state of Uttarkhand in the country’s northwest, killing more than 5,500 and affecting more than 100,000 others.

Experts blamed the heavy toll in part on the state government’s lack of preparedness to handle disasters, despite a history of calamities in the region, including 1998 flooding that killed over 300 people in one village.

Last year’s flood, considered India’s worst natural disaster since the 2004 Asian tsunami, has left experts questioning whether the country is adequately prepared to respond to disasters, particularly at the state and local level.

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